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Disruptive Politics

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It is the opposition’s refrain that the Modi Government passes laws without discussion. At the same time, when it is time to hold these discussions, it creates a ruckus in Parliament, forcing the presiding officers to adjourn the sittings. Every day a new reason is found for the protests – eventually the laws are passed in a rush and the basic objective of parliament is thwarted. When questioned about this approach, a standard response from the opposition is ‘but the BJP used to do it as well’.

It is a fact that the opposition is badly outnumbered and, barring a few, its MPs are not as articulate and grounded as those of the Treasury Benches. Rather than be shown up if a real debate does take place, it merely wishes to play to the gallery so that supporters can replicate such behaviour on the streets with all the usual consequences. It is the widely accepted belief among them, despite the electoral evidence, that the stand-offs like the farmers’ agitation and those against CAA and NRC have increased support for them among the electorate. Many of them escape responsibility for electoral debacles by, eventually, blaming the EVMs.

The people must take note of such behaviour. Civil society must communicate in all the ways possible that for India to become a more mature and effective democracy MPs must develop and display their debating skills. The people would be able to see for themselves the level of knowledge and understanding of issues of their public representatives. If politicians understood the art of politics better, they would know that even a couple of memorable speeches telecast across the country pay dividends well beyond even their tenures as MPs. It is also an excellent learning process for all, especially newcomers.

Unfortunately, many of the ‘senior’ leaders are in Parliament not because of their skill-sets but owing to dynastic or caste credentials. They do not wish to be exposed as mediocre players in the crossfire of a debate, so are increasingly adopting disruptive tactics. Will it take another decade of BJP dominance for things to change? Are major parties like the Congress to be demolished before they can rise Phoenix like? Or is Indian politics going to descend to the street level chaos being witnessed presently in Sri Lanka and other parts of the world? Can India afford such politics?