I was aghast at an eminent lawyer of the standing of Arun Jaitley, who is a former Minister to boot, aggressively asserting in TV news channels the right of the BJP to resort to “obstructionism” in Parliament to force the Government to accept its stand on the CAG report on the allocation of coal blocks. But for such “obstructionism”, he claimed, the former Minister of Communications, A. Raja, would not have been driven to resign for his involvement in the 2G scam.

By perversely legitimising “obstructionism”, the BJP has wittingly converted itself from ‘a party with a difference’ to a party of destructive politics. Thereby, the party has chosen to pull down the entire architecture of parliamentary democracy.

It is puzzling to me because the party has within its fold a number of seasoned personages, who would normally merit being regarded as enlightened and even erudite. L. K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj, M. Venkiah Naidu and Arun Jaitley himself, to mention just a few examples, are persons of no mean calibre.

They have all, in addition, had the benefit of leadership of Atal Behari Vajpayee, who was also the recipient of the best Parliamentarian award and could have been expected to school his acolytes in the sanctity of Parliament in a democracy such as India claims to be.

How come such a party is demeaning itself by antics that can only cause revulsion in the minds of the right-thinking people? I would earnestly ask the BJP leaders to take some lessons from the conduct of political leaders in the Opposition in a mature democracy like that of Britain. This they can do merely by watching live telecasts of proceedings by channels like those of the BBC.

There have been egregious lapses by the ruling party there in times of grave consequence to the people such as during the Second World War, the period of violence in Ireland as also in recent times over British Government’s policies on Afghanistan and Iraq, terrorist attacks, and the financial crisis.

AWFUL IRONY

The Opposition in the UK invariably displays a high sense of responsibility and restraint, and never once raises the peremptory demand for the Prime Minister’s or the Government’s resignation, nor indulges in rowdy behaviour stalling the functioning of Parliament. All differences in approach and all failures and omissions are discussed with great dignity and decorum within the House, the members instantly obeying the directions of the Chair.

The BJP, especially, takes pride in the attributes of India’s hoary culture and civilisation, and is all worked up over the temple for Rama, the maryada purushottam, the very picture of ideals and values. Isn’t it an awful irony that leaders of such a party should be setting such a baleful example to the younger generation and their own followers by their violation of every canon that Rama stood for?

Judged by any touchstone of propriety, procedure or democratic norms, the BJP’s obduracy in persisting with the demand for the Prime Minister’s resignation, and making that conditional on letting the Parliament function, is totally unwarranted.

The PM’s resignation, in effect, means the resignation of the whole Government and plunging the nation into turmoil. It is utterly irresponsible to knowingly tear asunder the social and economic fabric of a country passing through critical times. There are no words strong enough to condemn it.

The BJP, by wantonly obstructing Parliament from placing before the nation during a debate all issues and aspects arising from the CAG’s report, by unfairly imposing its own unilateral imputation of culpability to the Prime Minister, and by threatening resignation of its MPs, has lowered the esteem in which Parliament elected by the people, the sovereign masters, should be held.

The party should get back to acceptable methods of reconciling disputes between the Government and the Opposition derived from the Indian Constitution.

For instance, strictly speaking, it is premature even to have a debate on the CAG report, let alone for the PM resign.

There is the duly constituted Public Accounts Committee, chaired by a member from the Opposition, to go into the report with a toothcomb and submit its conclusions to both Houses.

The BJP should hold its soul in patience until the PAC finishes its task and then train its guns on the Government, if necessary.

(This article was published on August 23, 2012)
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