The Opposition’s Contraction in the Indian Confluence

The Indian Polity confluence of democracy and republic needs to be comprehended for mitigating the opposition’s contracted space. The denial of the space would cause exclusion in an otherwise all- inclusive Parliament.

  Picture Courtesy : The Hindu

The two events that took place before and during the current Monsoon session have left food for thought to be explored. The Hon’ble Chief Justice of India (CJI) about diminishing opposition space in Rajasthan and the election of the 15th President of India by our people’s representatives. These events unintentionally exhibit a salient feature of the representative democracy in the Indian polity.

The Indian Polity is a confluence of being one of the largest democratic and republic nation. The feature is evident in the post of President, who is the nominal head of the Republic as well as a part of the Parliament. Generally, Democracy means laws made by the majority voting directly. It tends to leave the rights of the minority unprotected. The Republic, on the other hand, supports representative democracy chosen by its people for a fixed tenure bound by constitutionalism. The rights of the minority are protected from the bare will of the majority.

The Parliament is a symbol of representative democracy. Once in every five years, the citizens are expected to choose their representatives to – Debate, Discuss, Deliberate, and Dissent (4Ds) – to make legislation for the nation. Instead, an average citizen votes to elect a Member of the Parliament (MP) based on the efficiency of service delivery basic needs of their constituency. An MP has been allocated funds under MPLADS for the same. Due to this additional responsibility on the parliamentarians, the Parliamentary business as a platform for the 4Ds and passing laws does not attract much interest in a layman’s view. However, the Parliamentary business assumes a higher pedestal affecting the nation’s discourse in the longer run. The oversight of the Parliamentary business is largely left to the opposition benches, pressure groups, and the civil society at large.

On this note, the CJI expressing his worry about the hostility against opposition and hasty passage of laws bereft of detailed scrutiny in the Parliament needs to be analyzed. The Government wrests the Parliament into its unitary control. This has resulted in changing its nature of being an all-inclusive platform for discussion to a mere rubber stamp for cabinet decisions. The exclusion does not stop at people of the opposing political spectrum but yields through any opposing idea from the civil society including the domain experts in many cases. It is a disregard for the rules and conventions in parliamentary business. To name a few from a long list such as vacant Deputy Speaker of Loksabha post, the lack of discussion in the national issues with common words used to critique the government in the compilation of the banned words, referring none of the Bills to standing committees, and indiscriminate use of ordinances apart from hastily passing laws even without a division vote.

The consequence is costing the nation dearly. Although the Government has the numeric strength in the Parliament, it is to be noted that the opposition has nearly 200 MPs in the Loksabha itself. Most of these MPs are from South and Eastern states. There has been no dissent reported on any of the laws or policies by the ruling party members who are summoned with a two-liner whip for attendance in the house. Let alone the citizens, the Government’s actions shock its coalition partners by making hasty policy decisions. Civil society is treated with contempt and never consulted on crucial issues. The backlash in the three contentious rolled-back agricultural laws is a case in point. This exclusion of the voices of representatives representing a sizeable portion of our population across various backgrounds is a huge disservice to the nation by lawmakers.

In a civilized democracy, there should be a fair chance for anyone can win elections and they might be of the view of enjoying the will of the majority. In this regard, CJI recalling Dr. BR Ambedkar in his speech made a pertinent point that the theory of rule by the majority is unjustifiable in practice. The sanctity of platforms like the Parliament needs to be protected and must be inclusive of all viewpoints. Otherwise, there will be a regional disparity in development and irreversible damages to the socio-economic fabric of the nation of which citizens at large will be the casualty. Remembering the Indian polity confluence, it is interpreted as Project Democracy is a joint effort of all its stakeholders that must be upheld both in letter and in spirit.

The author is a freelance writer pursuing an LL.B from the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi.