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Tuesday, July 16, 2024, 11:16 am

Tuesday, July 16, 2024, 11:16 am

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Extended debates and arguments should be allowed in parliament.

Extended debates and arguments should be allowed in parliament.
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As the 18th Lok Sabha begins its first session, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledges to govern by consensus.

Both the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the opposition INDIA alliance emphasised the importance of upholding the Constitution throughout the 2024 general election campaign.

Although both parties claim to seek compromise and uphold the Constitution, there has been little evidence of agreement on important governance or political issues. The initial session was characterised by ongoing antagonism from the campaign. The NDA and INDIA group clashed over the appointment of the pro-tem Speaker, leading to a potential conflict over the position. The opposition has offered to back the NDA’s candidate in exchange for the office of Deputy Speaker. Traditionally, members of the Opposition have held the role of Deputy Speaker. In the 16th Lok Sabha, the role was held by the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. However, in the 17th Lok Sabha, the position remained vacant for the whole time, which was unusual in Indian Parliament history. The BJP has made no commitment to support an Opposition candidate for Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Modi’s appeal for agreement and parliamentary discussions can be a sign of a healthy democracy, but it needs to be translated into action. The government’s principal interlocutor, Union Minister Rajnath Singh, has reached out to Opposition leaders, and these interactions should become more frequent. Consensus may not always be possible or necessary. Mr. Modi’s political authority and legitimacy can be strengthened by exhibiting a willingness to share power with both the ruling alliance and the opposition.

Building coalitions is crucial for India’s progress and prosperity, beyond the tactical issue of government stability, as the BJP is currently 32 seats short of a majority. The first session of the new Lok Sabha aims to promote open debate, dissent, and finding common ground among parties. During the last two Lok Sabha terms, House and Committee proceedings did not meet these standards. The ruling coalition, led by the BJP, should reaffirm its commitment to Parliament’s norms and content, while the opposition should respond constructively.

 

 

Abhishek verma


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