The first week of the winter session of parliament has ended. It has witnessed some acrimonious debates, underlined by levelling of charges and counter-charges by the treasury and the opposition benches on the issues related to corruption. The united opposition has so far been successful in pushing the government to a corner and not allow transaction of any worthwhile government business. On the eve of the beginning of the current session, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had promised that the winter session would see the beginning of the second generation financial reforms.
It has, however, failed to happen so far with the government being forced to defer the tabling of the report of the select committee on the insurance amendment act. The opposition, with the exception of the Congress and the Bahujan Samajwadi Party, has made clear that they were not comfortable with the move and would try to scuttle the passage of the amendment bill. Despite the numbers, the government, especially in the Lok Sabha has not been able to establish its influence on the functioning of the House.
The situation is somewhat better in Rajya Sabha. Ironically in the Rajya Sabha the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is in the minority but the legerdemain of Leader of the House Arun Jaitley has helped the treasury benches to maintain equanimity.
The same cannot be said about the lower house. In the absence of the Leader of House, that is the Prime Minister, the performance of the government in Lok Sabha has left much to be desired. It’s not that just the prime minister who has not been present but the treasury benches have remained vacant with the absence of other stalwarts like home minister Rajnath Singh and foreign minister Sushma Swaraj.
In their absence it has been left to parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu, who is otherwise a member the upper house, to lead the government’s point of view in the Lok Sabha. This has led to dreary performance. The government needs to engage the opposition and this can be best done by the prime minister. Indian parliamentary history is replete with the names of leaders, who led the nation in discussions and debates through their enunciations in the parliament, the Lok Sabha in particular. Prime Minister Narendra Modi too would have to lead from the front to push crucial legislations through the house, or at the conclusion of the present session would be left ever increasing unfinished legislative agenda.