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Diminishing role of Parliament

Topics Covered: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

Diminishing role of Parliament:


Context:

How the present government’s actions are undermining the role of Parliament today.

Actions that have diminished the role of Parliament:

PM Modi has spoken only 3.6 times a year in Parliament: 22 times in six years.

  • This illustrates the populist style of communication of Modi, who prefers to communicate directly with the people, either on the radio (like Indira Gandhi in the 1970s) or via social media (like the US President Donald Trump).
  • Now the main concern here is that these methods reflect a preference for one-way messaging, which obviates the risk of contradiction, and questioning by the receiver.

Ordinance route: In order to circumvent Parliament, the Modi government has often followed the ordinance route.

  • While ordinances are usually resorted to by minority governments or coalition governments, the Modi government has used it more than any of his predecessors despite the BJP enjoying a majority in the Lok Sabha.
  • The average number of ordinances jumped from six a year under Manmohan Singh to 11 a year under Modi.

No role for Parliamentary Committees:

  • The number of Bills that have been referred to parliamentary committees — the deliberative core of parliamentary work — has shrunk dramatically, from 68 (71 per cent of the total) in the 15th Lok Sabha to 24 (25 per cent of the total) in the 16th Lok Sabha — and zero in 2020.

Resort to money Bill route:

  • Several key pieces of legislation have been passed as Money Bills, despite the fact that they did not fit this category.

Less discussions:

  • Ordinary Bills are not so much discussed, either because their texts are handed over to the MPs at the last minute or because there is little time for debates.

Role and significance of Parliament in deliberations:

By definition, Parliament is the crucible of criticism, deliberation and even consensus-making.

Parliamentarism stands poles apart from populism, not only because it epitomises representative democracy, but also because it treats opponents as adversaries, not as enemies.

So, what’s the main concern now?

Clearly, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha are ceasing to be places for debates.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Difference between Parliamentary vs Cabinet committees.
  2. Standing vs select vs finance committees.
  3. Who appoints chairperson and members of these committees?
  4. Committees exclusive to only Lok Sabha.
  5. Committees where Speaker is the chairperson.

Mains Link:

What are Parliamentary Standing committees? Why are they necessary? Discuss their roles and functions to bring out their significance.

Sources: Indian Express.