It was known that any optimism about a session of the parliament turning fruitful would be misplaced, but hoping against hope, one had thought this one would be an exception. With the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha adjourned sine die on 11 August, it was the fourth consecutive session that disappointed the nation, more so due to the blatant lie that the INC furthered to justify its unseemly jostling with the marshals in the upper house. As PRS Legislative Research says in its report, the parliament in this monsoon session functioned for less than a quarter of the allocated time and finished yet again before schedule. The passage of 20 bills in this duration merely shows that the treasury benches are now more adept at floor management whereas democracy expects debates over every proposal of legislation. The Lok Sabha passed a bill in 34 min and Rajya Sabha in 46 min on average as an unsubstantiated — but strategic — allegation of the Pegasus spyware consumed much of the working hours.
After nearly a decade, India has an opposition that is ceding ground in the name of raising people’s concerns. The BJP, not always accompanied by all NDA constituents, had boycotted the proceedings session after session during the UPA rule, which turned that government’s allies, the communists, the de facto opposition in the period. The left could not have asked for a better deal as they were, in equal measure, sharing the fruits of power. In 2021, several ideas that the opposition may not like are getting the stamp of approval for their indifference towards genuine debates.
Then there is the formidable manoeuvring capability of Narendra Modi’s MPs, which would ensure that even for the most contentious bills, support will shore up, with some opposition legislators suddenly moving in favour of the government. This was not needed in the monsoon session, but that option is sure to be exercised when Modi goes about bringing in further reforms. Notice that 15 of the bills introduced in the monsoon session were not referred to any parliamentary committee. Mercifully for Hindus though, as in the case of turning Article 370 defunct, if the Modi government were to free temples from state control or overturn the Places of Worship Act, 1991, made by the PV Narasimha Rao dispensation, the parliament might witness a repeat redundancy of committees. No committee could drag its feet on agricultural reforms either. Regardless of things this government says and does for public consumption in the milieu of a hostile commentariat, such ‘masterstrokes’ are awaited by the hapless majority. After all, the system of delivery that has been put in place is not an end in itself. Delivery by way of change is. Freedom of Hindus, giving them rights equal to Muslims, Christians, Parsis, Sikhs and Jains would be a monsoon that will be a watershed event rather than a washed-out one.