Frequent disruptions have brought Parliament on par with state assemblies and this trend has over the last 20 years played out like the “elongated funeral rites of the parliamentary system”, said Shourie, who has distanced himself from the BJP. “Whenever you paralyse it, whatever be the issue, you are inflicting great harm to the country,” Shourie told Shekhar Gupta, Editor-in-Chief of The Indian Express, in an interview for NDTV’s ‘Walk the Talk’ programme.
“The institution is getting reduced to what state assemblies are like. In state assemblies, the sessions are now of 4-5 days each. So, if you see the effective days of Parliament, it has been already reduced to a level of state assemblies. Can a country like India be run like that?” Shourie asked. “Whatever be the issue,” the opposition should adopt methods that will strengthen institutions like Parliament, he said.
Shourie said he did not find merit in the BJP’s argument that the strategy to disrupt Parliament was a one-off case to bring the coal block allotment controversy to the notice of voters. “One session actually casts a shadow on the institution of Parliament forever,” Shourie said, lamenting the trend of disrupting Parliament in the name of one issue or the other. “Even from the narrow point of view, it is counter productive, in my view...for 15-20 years now, we are attending the elongated funeral rites of the parliamentary system.”
Parliament could also have made use of existing rules to suspend unruly members who protest by rushing to the well of the house, said the author and former newspaper editor. “Just enforce the rules and tire them out. Let the country see them,” Shourie said, referring to the protesting MPs. While disruptions helped the government by diverting attention away from the issue in question, the BJP had very articulate leaders who could have analysed and debated the controversy in Parliament and put the government on the mat, he said.
The BJP should, in fact, use the opportunity to present itself as a credible alternative to the UPA government instead of disrupting Parliament, Shourie said. “You should not worry too much about the government. It is not going to change. It is working full time to prove its worthlessness. The opposition should concentrate on convincing the country that it is a responsible group, that it can govern, that they have better ideas, that they have a better record at implementing these ideas,” Shourie said.