The Uttarakhand Assembly managed, in the face of many difficulties, to hold a one-day monsoon session, thereby meeting the constitutional requirement to convene within six months of the last sitting. It was illustrative of the stresses imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic on society. Two of the three important pillars of constitutional functioning within the House, the Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition, had been rendered hors de combat due to the virus, as were several other members. However, the usual dose of drama was provided by the Congress, which despite its diminished numbers, sought to emulate ‘eminent’ parliamentarians Derek O’Brien and Sanjay Singh with their display of aggression within the House.
Ironically, their grouse was that the Government had not provided them the opportunity to discuss the handling of the pandemic in the state. This despite having done their best in recent days to violate anti-Covid protocols while holding protests and rallies. It is very possible that the Congress is feeling the pressure from newbie AAP, which too put on an even more unruly show outside the House, as it has no representation within. For some reason, the opposition seems to believe that the way forward politically is to lower the level of debate to physical confrontation, perhaps inspired by the ‘progress’ being made by the Black Lives Matter movement on the streets of USA.
Of late, one yearns for the subtlety, humour and intellectualism of parliamentary debate that is the hallmark of democracies around the world. Does the new breed of parliamentarians believe that the raucousness and viciousness of social media is the way to go? Is it their opinion that the average voter is impressed by such shenanigans? It may seem expedient to espouse populist causes in the House, hoping to harvest a general feeling of discontent, but without content, it is empty. This was the case with the protests against the CAA, which is why it derailed so quickly into violence. The same goes for the concern being expressed for farmers following the passage of the agri bills.
Sadly, there was no shortage of issues worth raising vis-à-vis the government’s performance in Uttarakhand. That a minister has had to file a ‘missing’ report on a bureaucrat is only a small indication of the turmoil within. Had the House been allowed to function peacefully, all this could have been highlighted for the media to report. Instead, two of the three hours that the House functioned were lost to the ‘hungama’. It would seem that the opposition is too lazy to prepare and too dependent on empty noise to do its job. This is not responsible politics.