Running Away From Parliament?

Can a combination of a corrupt government and media barons justify the Prime Minister running away from parliament in a democracy? Unfortunately that is exactly what has been the response of Dr Mammohan Singh, the Indian Prime Minister, to various scandals that would shame even the most shameless fellow on Earth! The Prime Minister is not above the law. He is as much answerable to the law as any other Indian citizen.

It is being made out by the corrupt media as if the Opposition is not allowing the parliament to function. Is parliament only a tea club? Do the members go to the parliament as if it was another party of the people’s representatives? Is parliament not supposed to do serious business? Is the parliament not solely responsible to protect public money from a corrupt government? Is parliament not responsible for guarding the borders of the country or ensuring internal security, law & order, development and above all, working of the government as mandated by the Constitution? The media seems to function under the purblind view that the parliament is only to pass laws, debate, lunch, collect the daily allowance and go on touring India & foreign countries, taking some friendly media persons also with them at government expense like they do with the visits of the Prime Minister.

They have a distorted view of the parliament. It is the parliament of India that chooses a government for the country (a state legislature for the state similarly). It can throw out the government any moment at a very short notice and even without notice by defeating a money Bill. That is the Indian Parliament. It is not the handmaiden of any political party or a person. Therefore the media should make no mistakes. The Prime Minister should make no mistakes. The treasury benches or the Opposition should make no mistakes. Similarly they should not make light of any issue raised in the parliament. When the Prime Minister runs away from the parliament, he/she disrespects the parliament. When the treasury benches run away from the parliament they trash the parliament as the highest democratic Institution under the Indian Constitution. It is the essence of “supreme”, that the parliament thinks it is. The treasury benches do no favour to the opposition by honestly fielding all questions rather than bulldozing answers, as has been practiced by the Manmohan Singh government nonchalantly all these years. The blot of corruption has not been removed by the conduct of the government by resorting to the undemocratic practice of bullying, intimidating or simply bulldozing the voices of the people in the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha or the various Committees of the parliament. On the contrary, the black spot of corruption has become larger by the day. Today it is just an admitted fact that this is the corruptest government that India has seen so far in its existence of more than 5000 years. Not one but every needle of suspicion goes to the present government, the Prime Minister or the coterie controlling the government.  They do not allow the parliament to function as mandated by the Constitution or the Rules of Business.

The parliament keeps a tight leash on the government. The Executive power of the State is so vast that any political party or its Prime Minister, short on ethics,  can create a terrible mess of governance in the country without the parliament keeping it under reins. The budget is one such instrument in the hands of the parliament to keep the government under proper check. Without money no government can function. But the government is required to observe strictly the Financial  Rules governing expenditure so sanctioned by the parliament in the annual budget. Whether the government has followed the Rules or flouted them, is necessary for the parliament to know. That the parliament does through the institution of the Comptroller & Auditor General (C & AG) of India. The CAG has indicted the Manmohan Singh government on several issues in the past few years, such as the C & AG report on 2G spectrum scandal worth Rupees 1,76,000 crores; Commonwealth Games (CWG) scam worth Rupees 70000 crores; coal blocks allotments worth 1,86,000 crores; Delhi Airport worth more than 100000 crores; Reliance Power worth around 29000 crores and dozens of other such scams. The response of the Manmohan Singh government to all these scandals has been woefully contemptuous, casual and caustic towards whosoever has raised it in parliament or outside the parliament. But the government is duty bound to satisfactorily answer questions in parliament. The prime minister as also the treasury benches run away from the parliament, seek refuge behind parliamentary committees or adopt dilatory tactics. The parliament has been deprived of its privilege to seek explanations from the government, pull it up for violation of financial propriety or rules and put it on the mat. Questions for oral or written answers, short notice questions, calling attention notices, adjournment motions and no confidence motions are the  instruments in the hands of the parliament to drill a sense of discipline and responsibility in the minds of any errant government. An honest Prime Minister should respond to the concern of the people raised through their elected representatives in parliament rather than brushing them aside. Such reprehensible conduct of the prime minister breeds public anger leading to protests on the streets, which creates law and order problems and costs the nation dearly. Had the Prime Minister chosen to respond gracefully, matters could have been resolved amicably. But he has run away from the parliament. He has failed to show moral courage to face the issues. Instead, he has committed grave impropriety for a Prime Minister by criticizing the Comptroller & Auditor General. The PM need not do that: he should deal with it under the rules of business in the parliament or the cabinet. The charge of corruption and scams will not wash simply because the prime minister,or on his behalf any uncouth politician or purchased media, uses harsh language or indulges in intimidating postures. Making faces on TV channels, gesticulation or filthy language do not strengthen democracy in India. Rather they weaken it.

The treatment meted out to CAG reports, Opposition voices, parliamentary committees, civil society, academicians, intellectuals, social commentators, political analysts is indicative of a slide in constitutional governance of democratic India. It is worse than a banana republic. For a democratic government coteries and control cells proxy; for modern India every politician is behaving as if he/she is some kind of a Mughal; all constitutional institutions have been disabled and India is under economic aggression darkly. India is precariously placed, while neo colonialism is pushing deviously under the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh!

The Prime Minister should take charge of the situation and offer to resign to re-establish his moral authority. It shall expose the operators running the government from hideouts. The PM must show respect to the CAG reports immediately. He should not shy away or run away from parliament. If he ends up as a PM patronizing corruption, he will not be able to live happily in India. If he moves to a foreign country, the tag will not allow him to live honourably. He has the only choice of living honourably in India. The country is running a tragic deficit of honest men & women. Can he help in not reducing the numbers by one?

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