Consider the following :
- When the whole world was celebrating 21 June being declared as World Yoga Day by United Nations, with a record breaking support of 177 Nations, the entire opposition in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha was protesting against the suggestion of Bhagavad Gita being made the National Book.
- When the world was wondering whether Islam is the religion of piece after Islamist Talibans killed 132 kids in an army school in Peshawar, the opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha was protesting against Muslims in India converting to Hinduism.
Cold is always not the opposite of heat and darkness is not always the opposite of light. At times they are just the absence of heat or the absence of light. On similar lines in Indian Parliament, there are parties who are not part of NDA and seat in the space assigned to opposition but are not the “opposition party”.
There is simply an absence of opposition in Indian parliament since most of the arguments against six month old government made by the non-NDA parties are merely continuation of their election rhetoric. They have reduced their job to “obstruct” rather than “oppose”. Now there is a fine line between ‘opposition’ and ‘obstruction’-
– Attempt to acquire the votes in order to change current policy/repeal a policy.
– Accept the current policy/government if one cannot acquire enough votes to change/repeal/defeat as described above.
– Try to acquire the votes to change current policy/repeal a policy/defeat the current government
– Use every single dirty trick in the book to achieve the above goal even if one cannot acquire enough votes to do so.
So we can say that the opposition parties’ job is to-
- Ask Questions: Choice of words or statements by individual MP’s from the ruling party gives the opposition the possibility to question the government without thwarting the functioning of the government.
- Provide Alternative: When government calls for “Swacch Bharat” campaign then the opposition role is to provide an alternative agenda if they do not agree and not merely question with the government’s stand.
- Oppose: In case government continues soft approach on terror outfits like earlier regime then it should be questioned, and opposed.
- Obstruct: Obstructions are necessary when government wants to break Hindu Heritage like Ram Setu, or when government doesn’t wants to take action on large scale corruptions or wants to impose emergency.
- Co-operate: Cooperation is an important part of being in the opposition. If the government brings a bill on anti-conversion, then the opposition is supposed to cooperate rather than oppose both the conversion as well as anti conversion bill. Stands like these makes the opposition looks oafish.
The current parties seating in opposition specifically the INC either obstruct the proceedings or claim that the current government is continuing their program or current government is not continuing their program.
The fact of matter is that the opening up of defence sector to MNC’s was not the agenda of the earlier government. On top of it they opposed the current government’s idea of giving the MNC’s only 49% stake. Parties in opposition said that no one will come to India while reality is that the foreign defense manufacturers have already made a bee line to India.
Some voices in media try in vain to raise the issues that the current government is lacking in talent to run the government. In reality the current government has one of the best talent pools and the current opposition is worst since independence.
Those ministers who lost elections like Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid, Manish Tiwari, P Chidambaram etc. have conveniently moved back to their secondary profession, instead of providing qualitative and quantitative arguable points/issues to their party colleagues who are in parliament. The other set of leaders seating in opposition benches are mostly tainted with corruption like Mayawati, Mulayam etc. or are leaders with no locus-standi with the common man’s issues like Sitaram Yechuri or Bardhan.
Created in 1889, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) which is the international organization of parliaments has defined the “Guidelines on the rights and duties of the opposition in parliament”. Following is an excerpt from the same-
“The opposition in parliament must show itself to be responsible and be able to act in a statesmanlike manner. It must engage in constructive and responsible opposition by making counter-proposals. In its action, the opposition must not seek to hinder pointlessly the action of the government but rather endeavour to encourage it to improve such action in the general interest.
The opposition in parliament has a duty to offer voters a credible alternative to the government in office to make the majority accountable. To be a credible alternative, however, the opposition must also be ready to exercise the responsibilities to which it aspires on a lasting basis. In other words, it must have a programme which it is ready to implement. In democracy, political life is enriched by free competition of political programmes; it is impoverished by rivalry based on personal ambitions which merely disqualifies it in the eyes of public opinion.”
Parties occupying the benches of opposition members in Indian parliament will be well advised to visit the role and duties of opposition and behave accordingly or run the risk of being labelled as the Oafish Opposition.