K Ramachandra Murthy
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan will go down in the history of Indian Parliamentary democracy as the only Speaker till date to have adjourned the House sine die without taking up a No-Confidence motion for which a number of Opposition parties gave notices more than a dozen times. Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not exactly cover himself with glory by not trying to persuade the shouting AIADMK PMs to relent and allow the House to take up NC motion against him so that he could reply to all the allegations made by the Opposition benches. The prestige of the august institution has been compromised by all those who are supposed to protect it. Modi was seldom seen in the House. While giving farewell to the retiring Members of Rajya Sabha, Modi blamed the opposition for foregoing the opportunity to discuss the problems faced by the people, thus completely absolving himself and the BJP. He could have emulated his predecessor Atal Behari Vajapayee who broke the ice in Parliament by deploying Sushma Swaraj and Yashwant Sinha to negotiate with the Opposition leaders. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anantha Kumar confined himself to repeatedly declaring on the floor of the House that his party is prepared to debate the No-Confidence Motion. He did not make any attempt to confabulate with the speaker and the Opposition leaders to find ways and means to resolve the impasse.
Rajya Sabha is the best place to discuss state-specific issues. But the Lok Sabha MPs belonging to the AIADMK from Tamil Nadu had to resort to sloganeering and obstruction of proceedings to highlight their demand to set up the Cauvery Management Board. In the light of the decision given by the Supreme Court on sharing of Cauvery waters, which appeared to favour Karnataka a bit, the Tamil Nadu government and MPs have no other option other than taking the issue to Parliament.
The Trinamool Congress Party MPs were demanding a debate on the Punjab National Bank fraud. The public bank allowed a scam to the tune of Rs 12,000 crore to take place. The NDA government had allowed the scamster Nirav Modi to flee the country. Akali Dal also has some pressing problems to be highlighted in Parliament. TRS MPs also joined other sloganeering members for some days demanding a Constitutional amendment for providing 12 per cent reservations to Muslim community in government jobs and educational institutions. A resolution passed by the Telangana Assembly earlier has been sent to the Centre. The TRS had second thoughts and stopped disrupting the proceedings so that the issue of Special Category Status (SCS), simmering in the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, gets debated. But the AIADMK MPs would not give up and the NDA government would not attempt to talk to them into agreeing to allow an important item on the agenda like NC motion to be taken up. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan could have suspended the AIADMK MPs at least for one day during which the NC motion could be debated upon. Obviously, she has no such suggestion from the prime minister.
In view of the upcoming elections in Karnataka, polling of which is scheduled to take place on May 12, the BJP and the Congress are not prepared to touch the Cauvery issue with a barge pole. It is an extremely touchy issue. Any assurance given to Tamil Nadu through the agitating AIADMK MPs is certain to boomerang on the parties in Karnataka. The BJP is prepared to get into history books as a party that allowed the second leg of Budget Session of Parliament to be washed out by not intervening to resolve the deadlock rather than take a chance with the Cauvery issue. The AIADMK, which is perceived as friendly with the BJP at whose behest the Dravidian party allegedly continued its disruption activities in Parliament, challenged the Congress party to support the No-Confidence Motion against the Modi government on the issue of Cauvery waters. It was a clever ploy by AIADMK and, perhaps, the BJP, to drive a wedge between Congress party and the people of Karnataka. At present, the Congress Party and its government headed by Siddaramiah are considered as friends of Kannadigas who waged battles in the courts to do justice to them in sharing Cauvery waters.
It is amusing to watch BJP President Amit Shah accuse the Opposition parties, at the BJP conclave in Mumbai, for disrupting the Parliament while the BJP was always prepared to debate on No-Confidence Motion. Meanwhile, the five MPs belonging to YSRCP have resigned, true to their pledge, and sat on an indefinite hunger strike at Andhra Pradesh Bhavan in Delhi this afternoon demanding Special Category Status for AP. The TDP MPs, in contrast, have opted to retain their membership of Parliament while doing other things that would catch the eye of the camera. While every political party has its own political game to play in Parliament, the TDP headed by Nara Chandrababu Naidu, a wily politician, has an extra item on its agenda. The Budget Session of Andhra Pradesh Assembly has been extended reducing it to a one-man show with the chief minister speaking for not less than two hours every day attacking the Opposition YSRCP, which boycotted the Session, and the BJP for denying SCS to AP.