The Big Picture – Has bitter politics made Parliament dysfunctional?
After having waited for three weeks to arrive at a consensus to convene a special session of parliament, the government seems to have given up the idea. It has gone ahead and got the monsoon session, which ended on August 13th, prorogued. This means that there is no hope of any special session to clear the Crucial GST bill. The government, now, will have to wait till winter session to take up the bill. It means the likelihood of implementing Goods and Service Tax from April 1, 2016, as promised earlier, is in all likelihood not a possibility. Meanwhile, the war of words between leaders in the parliament and the leaders in the opposition has further widened the gap, affecting the efforts for consensus in the parliament. This has resulted in a dysfunctional parliament.
This decision is also being termed as an inescapable decision. Opposition leaders say that this is mainly due to the inability of government to arrive at a consensus. They allege that the government has not reached out to the opposition in the manner in which it should have done. There were no attempts by the government to arrive at a middle path. Some experts call this war of words between the parties as pre election heat which gets dissipated after some time. Experts believe that accomodating oppostion’s views is necessary for smooth functioning of the parliament. Legislature is a shared premise.
There is wide consensus that the goods and service tax is good primarily because it stops the cascading of taxes, unites goods and services under one head, reduces leakages and brings more products and services into the tax net.
The Congress-led opposition in Rajya Sabha has managed to trip the two bills that the Modi government had set its heart on. It is also being said that the present government is undermining the position of the Rajya Sabha. members of the Rajya Sabha are elected by members of the state legislatures. In the Indian federal system, the Rajya Sabha represents the states. Before Independence too, the Chamber of Princes, which was transformed into Rajya Sabha, represented large chunks of princely India. In this chamber, the people of the princely states were present, though indirectly. The Rajya Sabha is a key element in the federal system of India.