Parliament Winter Session was a ‘win-win’ for the Opposition

With opportune incidents and vociferous sloganeering, the opposition managed to get its voice across

From protest marches and sloganeering to MPs thrusting the well of the house, the Speaker breaking down to tears and other such common Indian parliamentary whims; the winter session of the parliament has been in the news for all reasons except constructive legislative debate. 

Political polarization was imminent as the Parliament could still not recover from the vestiges of the monsoon session, when 12 MPs were suspended from the Rajya Sabha on account of- what Chairman Venkaiah Naidu called- sacrilege committed by them in the Upper House.

As a ritual, the House stood adjourned for consecutive days in the initial part of the winter session, following which opposition leaders would gather around the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Parliament premises in solidarity with the 12 MPs. The opposition used the Chairman’s reluctance to revoke the suspension to give credence to the narrative of a repressive government that has rendered the opposition voiceless in the Parliament. 

While the Opposition’s claim that the suspension of the MPs was undemocratic has some merit, considering it wasn’t referred to a Parliamentary committee, it is also true that it missed the chance to hold the government accountable on several pressing issues of immense consequence to the people of the country. 

The winter session was a missed opportunity for the opposition to pin the government down as a consolidated voice of reason. Apart from the important bills in the pipeline, the opposition was expected to corner the government over the Pegasus row, the rise in fuel prices and the opportunistic and delayed repeal of the farm laws. 

“Passed Without Discussion, Repealed Without Discussion”: Omar Abdullah

After the Farm Laws Repeal Bill 2021 was passed- without considerable deliberation in the Parliament- was passed, Gujarat Congress In-charge Raghu Sharma demanded that the government pass a law assuring Minimum Support Price (MSP) to the farmers, which went totally unnoticed in the reportage of the parliament proceedings. 

The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021 received flak from investors and shareholders initially but the discussion that followed in the Parliament did not encompass the concerns and trepidations of the people over the potential ‘blanket ban’ on the crypto-market. 

The Constitution bill on the other hand was one to kept a lookout for since it aims to revise UP’s SC and ST lists, right ahead of their elections. The government has plans to do the same for Tripura as well, eventually. 

The migrant population has created quite some chaos in the country, with their population steadily increasing in the border states. Thus, the Emigration bill plans on setting a better and more resourceful framework within which migrants can operate in the country. 

There are certain subjects from the Budget session of the year which needed further discussion. Privatization of the banking sector, along with the revision in the salaries of the judges in the High Courts and the Supreme Court were some of the major topics that fall under the category.

2021 has seen a steady rise in the number of criminal cases being registered. This is true especially for crimes against women, particularly for the trafficking of humans. Under such circumstances, the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection, and Rehabilitation) Bill was important. 

The all party meeting, which the PM astutely decided to skip, set in motion a series of dramatic events. 

Leader of Opposition  Mallikarjun Kharge said “around 15 issues were raised during the meeting, including farmers’ problems, border tussle with China, Covid preparation and past mismanagement, inflation, high fuel prices, unemployment, state of the economy and the extension of the BSF’s jurisdiction in border states.” Opposition leader said that issues of Pegasus spyware and reservation of women were also raised, with leaders demanding discussion on them. In the meeting, the BSP talked about the miseries of the Dalits and the compensation that the government must give to families of the farmers who died through the course of the protest. 

The three-hour long meeting was also privy to AAP MP Sanjay Singh walking out, saying that the government doesn’t want the opposition to have a voice.

In the beginning of the session, the Opposition seemed to be on logger heads, with the TMC skipping the opposition-meeting convened by the Congress Party. TMC leaders like Derek’O Brien said that their party is not beholden to any party even on the national scene. However, when opposition leaders from across the board, including TMC leaders like Mahua Moitra taking it to the streets to protest against what they called an ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘illegal’ suspension of the MPs. 

The  Lakhmipur Kheri violence report submitted by the SIT, ccalling the violence a pre-planned conspiracy was another instance that saw the opposition united. They demanded the immediate resignation of Minister Ajay Mishra Teni and gathered around the well of the House, protesting against whom they called criminals. 

The winter session of the Parliament is a crucial precursor to the election season in the offing. What it holds for the spirit of the opposition cohesiveness remains to be seen, but with the opposition fighting relentlessly for justice and democracy seems to be a the only silver lining in what was thought to be a lopsided power dynamic so far.