The decline of parliamentary culture over the last decade poses serious threats to political accountability and probity. Critically examine the reasons for the same while suggesting measures that can be adopted to counter the menace.
Parliament is the temple of democracy. It is forum for legislators to hold the executive accountable. Indian democracy is witnessing a paradox wherein the respect towards parliamentarians is decreasing whereas towards democracy is increasing. The parliament is failing in its role to effectively discharge the duties of political accountability and probity. It is due to:
The anti-defection law doesn’t differentiate between dissent and differences. As a result there is lack of internal democracy among political parties and the parliament has reduced to a mere approving chamber. Thus there is a diminished role of parliament.
Decreasing quality of legislators
The increasing money power in politics has resulted in declining quality of legislators entering parliament. As a result the parliament cannot hold the executive accountable.
The dual membership of the legislators in parliament and executive as led to a perceived notion of parliament as an entry forum to the executive branch rather than being a law making body. As a result the role of the parliament as an accountability chamber is declining.
The parliament is witnessing more of disruptions rather than debates and discussions. Disruption has become a norm rather than debates on contentious issue. The budget session got washed out due to increased disruptions over the Cauvery issue and special status to Andhra.
Polarisation of politics
The politics is getting highly polarised. There is increasing tendency to put things in black and white in a situation when the reality is in grey. This has led to highly disruptive tendencies in parliament.
Reduced number of sittings
At a time when the economy is expanding and socio-economic scenario is getting complex the parliament should have been increasing the number of sittings on a contrary note the number of sittings are reducing. As a resulted there is more of delegated legislation and skeleton legislation, thus reducing role of parliament.
Increasing tendency to take the route of ordinance
Legislation through ordinance has seen an increase in the new socio-political scenario. This has reduced the role of parliament.
Politicisation of role of speaker
The office of speaker is getting politicised. As a result there is lack of confidence towards the office of speaker. Hence there is more number of disruptions leading to declining role of parliament.
Playing for media
The live coverage of the parliament sessions and increasing tendency to play to the gallery and media has led to deteriorating quality of parliament.
Measures that need to be taken to address the declining role of parliament
Increased role of opposition in designing of sessions
Opposition must be given more space in deciding the business procedures. So that there can be more of discussions in parliament and there are more number of avenues for opposition members to put their views and objections rather than taking route of disruptions.
Objectivity in the role of speaker
The discretionary powers of speaker in accepting the adjournment motion or testifying money bill has resulted in increased dissatisfaction among the opposition members leading to disruptions.
Internal democracy among political parties
There must be structural mechanisms to enforce the internal democracy among political parties by amending the representation of peoples act. This will enhance the quality of decision making and the democratic atmosphere.
Statutory provisions for the minimum number of sittings
Though there are conventions which demand minimum of 60 sittings of parliament per year. There are no statutory provisions. The statutory provisions need to be enforced to ensure and bring objectivity towards parliamentary sittings.
More power to speaker and chairman to act against unruly MPs
Parliament has to function effectively for the success of democracy. Lack of functioning of parliament will lead to deteriorated accountability of parliament towards legislature. This will lead to anarchy.