The impasse in Parliament continued on August 3 with both Lok Sabha as well as Rajya Sabha adjourned for the day. Both the government and the Opposition are refusing to budge from their positions.
14 Opposition parties met over breakfast hosted by Rahul Gandhi to discuss a joint strategy for the remainder of the session. Leaders of the Opposition led a cycle rally to the Parliament to protest against the rising fuel prices.
The Opposition has refused to let the Parliament function unless their demand for a debate on the ‘Pegasus snooping controversy’ is met. While the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government has agreed to debate on all issues, the Congress-led Opposition wants Parliament to schedule the deliberation on Pegasus first and other issues later.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Narendra Modi, fed up with theatrics, has slammed the Opposition for not allowing Parliament's monsoon session to function, accusing it of , the Constitution and the people, and wasting public resources.
"Parliament is being insulted by the acts of the Opposition in both Houses. The person who snatched the paper and tore it is not repentant of his acts," the prime minister said, referring to Trinamool Congress MP Santanu Sen’s act of snatching IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw's papers, as he was about to make a statement on the Pegasus scandal.
The prime minister was also critical of ‘derogatory comments by Trinamool MP Derek O'Brien terming passage of bills’ as making papri chaat.
The prime minister said his government was committed to the cause of the people and that is one of the reasons he asked all his ministers and MPs to ensure maximum presence in the House and in parliamentary proceedings.
This is the second time during this session that the prime minister has lashed out at the Opposition over protests in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
The Opposition is losing the plot and the perception game in the minds of the voters through these acts of disruption.
1. Wastage of taxpayers’ money
While the monsoon session of Parliament began on July 19, Parliament has functioned for only 18 hours out of possible 107 hours in the first two weeks. More than Rs 133 crore in taxpayer money has been lost because of disruptions as per government sources.
The productivity of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha now stands at just 14% and 20%, respectively.
2. Raking up the wrong issue again
While Rahul Gandhi has been proactive in uniting Opposition against the BJP, he again seems to be banking on an issue which doesn’t affect the common man. In the run up to the 2019 general elections, Rahul made a big hue and cry over the Rafale issue coining the slogan “Chowkidaar Chor Hai.”
Raising the Pegasus issue could again meet a similar fate. It is not an issue which impacts everybody’s daily lives. A handful of people have allegedly been snooped upon. The majority (rest) doesn’t care much as it has other bigger issues to deal with.
3. Case of wrong priorities
In prioritising Pegasus over other burning issues like price rise, COVID situation in the country and economic devastation caused by it, the Opposition in many ways is giving the government a free pass. By not allowing Parliament to function it has been portrayed in poor light in the eyes of the citizens.
The Opposition clearly doesn’t have its priorities right. With this behaviour it risks alienating people who might feel that the Opposition leaders are more concerned about their private lives (phone snooping) rather than aam aadmi’s woes.
4. Chance to reach out to the masses missed
While the Opposition's role is to oppose, it has to choose proper platforms to air their concerns. Debate in Parliament provides great opportunities as the proceedings are watched by millions of people across the country.
When the Opposition accuses the media of being sold out (wrongly so), how can it miss such a golden chance of free publicity and PR.
5. Admission of lack of talent
Allowing no debate gives the impression that the Opposition does not have any substantial meat on these issues and is opposing just for the sake of it. Such reluctance also shows the lack of talent on the Opposition benches to checkmate the government on the floor of the House.
While Rahul is good at social media, he is not fit for serious debates requiring in depth research and not empty rhetoric on the floor of the House.
To sum up, opposing the government’s policies and programs is the right of Opposition, but cycle and tractor rallies do not help its cause: rather, these are nothing but media events.