August 13, 2023

The Week in Parliament

CPI(M) Parliamentary Office

THE monsoon session of parliament was stormy, with opposition protests demanding a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding the ethnic violence in Manipur. These protests have reverberated through both houses since the commencement of the monsoon session on July 20.

Bikas Ranjan Bhattacharyya participated in the Rajya Sabha discussion on the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023. He highlighted that humanity is characterised by rationality, setting us apart as rational animals. This rationality has propelled our progress, fostering a step-by-step advancement of human civilization. We had never seen that the civilization has gone backwards.

Recalling the discussions during the Constituent Assembly's deliberations on the Constitution, he emphasized the role of governors. It was established that governors shouldn't wield additional power; rather, they should act in accordance with the advice of elected representatives and the representative government. This fundamental principle led to the evolution of a people's government, wherein the governor became a ceremonial constitutional head facilitating communication with the centre. This upheld the federal principle and governance enshrined in the constitution.

He reminded that when the constitution was adopted, Delhi wasn't a state but a union territory. He underscored that rationality guided the movement forward, eventually granting Delhi the status of a state with specific limitations. This evolution was evident in the incorporation of Article 239AA through a Constitution Amendment. Talking about the current situation, he said that we are regressing. Bhattacharyya lamented that the governor and bureaucrats, by constitutional principle and moral obligation, should be accountable to elected representatives. Yet, recent developments undermine this principle and the constitutional morality that underpins it.

Bhattacharyya said the Delhi Bill is unlike anything he has seen before. The Constitution of India and the Supreme Court stipulated that 'even the President of India cannot exercise unguided discretion.' However, this law, through the parliament, is providing sole discretion. Does the parliament intend to embrace autocracy? This law ushers in autocracy. It proclaims, 'Disregard the people's government; I shall appoint a bureaucrat; I shall choose someone to dictate.' 'You shall be subservient to this.' This bill threatens to regress us to a state of animality rather than advancing us to the level of humanity we take pride in. Urging the rejection of the Delhi Bill, he said, “Do not render democracy a farce. Let the representative government endure, and let the principles of the constitution be valued.”

AM Ariff expressed support to the no-confidence motion presented by the INDIA Alliance in the Lok Sabha. He highlighted the historic nature of this motion. It is the first time in the history of the Indian parliament that the opposition is moving a no-confidence motion unanimously with the sole aim of bringing the prime minister of India to this house to speak on an issue. The present no-confidence motion is moved to bring the prime minister to make a speech in the parliament on the turmoil in Manipur.

Ariff drew attention to the circumstances when the slogan ‘Pradhan mantri, Sadan mein aao" (Prime minister, come to the parliament session) echoed within the house, as the prime minister was physically absent in the parliament most of the time. Ariff pointed out that global media, including TIME magazine, characterised the prime minister as a leader of division, evoking a comparison to Nero Emperor, who played music while Rome burned. He further noted that the prime minister holds the record for the shortest attendance at the house proceedings in Indian parliamentary history.

Ariff highlighted the extreme delay in the prime minister's response to the Manipur crisis. He also mentioned how the media, particularly The Telegraph newspaper, portrayed the prime minister's response as insincere. He emphasised that journalists' access to the parliament is restricted, possibly due to the administration's aversion and fear of the press.

Ariff criticised the prime minister for delivering a speech on world peace in France while Manipur was in turmoil. He noted that the situation in Manipur led to the Supreme Court's intervention, assigning a retired DGP from Madhya Pradesh to investigate the atrocities, underlining the unprecedented nature of this turmoil.

Touching upon communal conflicts extending to Haryana, Ariff accused the government of inaction and exploiting divisive issues for political gains. He also spoke about the government’s intentions behind bringing in the Uniform Civil Code.

Ariff expressed concerns over the prime minister's actions, indicating a trend toward igniting communal tensions and potentially leading to the demolition of places of worship.