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House disruptions help the government: NK Premachandran

Poornima Joshi / AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on August 13, 2021

This Government is taking the advantage of the interruptions to push through their agenda. They are taking the advantage of the situation and bulldozing the Bills, says Four-term Lok Sabha MP of the Revolutionary Socialist Party

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Four-term Lok Sabha MP NK Premachandran of the Revolutionary Socialist Party, representing Kollam constituency, from Kerala, is counted among the most diligent parliamentarians in India. While an active trade unionist and vocal critic of the Government, he believes that disruption as a parliamentary strategy is long past its expiry date especially when it suits the Government not to have any debate on contentious Bills. Premachandran spoke to BusinessLine about the disintegration of the parliamentary process. Excerpts:

Why do you think disruption of proceedings in Parliament is helping the government?

More than 20 Bills were passed in this Session that include extremely critical bills such as Tribunal Reforms Bill which replaces an Ordinance. This is continuing an insidious process that started in 2017 when the Centre amended as many as 44 Acts, including laws like the Cinematograph Act and the Green Tribunal Act, through the Finance Bill. Through the Finance Bill route, they circumvented the Rajya Sabha scrutiny of these amendments because they would not have passed muster unless muscled in through the Money Bill. The Supreme Court subsequently struck down the amendments to the Green Tribunal Act. In order to override the Supreme Court verdict not just in the case of green tribunals but all other tribunals, they came with a general Act called the Tribunal Amendments Bill. This was passed without any debate and the result is that the Centre can now constitute any tribunal without a separate Act or parliamentary oversight. This is centralisation of power. This is a very important legislation that affects the Industrial Disputes Act, Railway Claims Tribunals Act, SEBI Act, AAI Act, TRAI Act, Trademarks Act and a number of other legislations.

Another important Bill is the Essential Defence Services Bill. All 41 factories under the Ordnance Factories Board are being converted into corporations. This Bill permanently prohibits strikes in these units. Penalties include jail term and dismissal from work. The move is to privatise the factories. Now 100 per cent FDI is permissible in the defence sector at a time when ordinance factory workers have been declaring indefinite strikes.

Only a democratic Government will be concerned about the disruptions in Parliament. Earlier, during the UPA Government or when AB Vajpayee was Prime Minister, the Government would reach out to the Opposition . They will offer a compromise formula. At the time, such protests had a value. Nowadays, it is not a democratic government that is in office. This Government is taking the advantage of the interruptions to push through their agenda. They are taking the advantage of the situation and bulldozing the Bills. They could also run away from a discussion on Pegasus issue. If the House was running in a smooth way, the Centre was bound to answer the questions of the Opposition. Opposition has to change the strategy because this is not a democratic Government.

But bills have been passed in the din in the past too. What is the difference between then and now?

Bills were passed amidst din only on urgent and exigent matters. That too very rarely. Here, they are passing Bills regularly in din. It has never happened earlier. All the other Governments in the past had requested the Opposition to cooperate in passing the Bills. This Government does not offer even a compromise formula. Not even a single Minister has said that they are ready to discuss Pegasus.

You were the only one who moved amendments to the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill. How critical do you think are the changes introduced through the latest amendments?

They are clearly de-nationalising the insurance companies. But the Centre never uses the word de-nationalisation. What is the meaning of doing away with the control of the Centre? It means de-nationalisation. They do not want control. This is a total sell-out.

Why do you say that the parliamentary procedure is getting disintegrated?

Sending a Bill to a Parliamentary Committee is very important. Under this Government, just 12 per cent of the Bills have gone to any of the standing committees. We have to admire our forefathers for framing a concrete system of scrutinising Bills. But under this Government, that system is being destabilised. The only beneficiary of this is the Government and its friends.

Published on August 13, 2021

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