Land bill should have been used as bargaining chip to pass GST: H.K. Dua 

New Delhi, Aug 18 (IANS) Perturbed at the washout of his last session as a member of parliament, veteran journalist H.K. Dua feels that “track-II diplomacy” is needed between the ruling and the opposition sides to make parliament function.

“There could have been a possibility of consensus in this session. There was no dialogue between opposition and the government. There was no initiative taken by the government,” an agitated Dua told IANS in an interview.

“Government has to be responsive,” he said.

Dua, a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha, finishes his six-year term in November this year and unless a special session is called to pass the Goods and Services Tax Bill, the monsoon session was his last.

The noted political analyst felt that the government could have used some bargaining power to push through the GST Bill.

“Land bill should have been used as a bargaining chip. They should have bargained that in exchange for that the GST bill should be passed,” he said.

Asked if there should be a law to prevent disruption of parliament, he said: “Law will not help, consensus will help. There is no dearth of rules to punish an errant MP. But if the entire party moves into the well, then what to do”.

Dua said he had seen numerous sittings of parliament, first as a newsman and then as an MP.

But things, according to him, have deteriorated over the four years. “The last couple of years of the UPA and the current session of the NDA government have set new (low) standards”.

“My worst points as an MP were when the land boundary and the Lokpal bills were torn apart on the floor of the Rajya Sabha”.

He said the functioning of parliament should be considered sacred. “Parliament is a key stone of democracy,” he added.

The recently concluded monsoon session of parliament was a washout, with opposition parties, specially the Congress, paralysing the functioning of both the houses.

Drawing parallels of the current stalemate with the UPA government’s last two years in power, Dua said: “Earlier they (BJP) wanted to demolish Congress-raj. There will always be issues,” adding this had to be sorted out.

“When you are not allowing parliament to function, you are not fighting the government, you are fighting parliament”.

He said that by not allowing a debate on contentious issues till the last moment, the opposition allowed the government “to get away”.

He said consensus was important for running parliament. “No parliament can function without dialogue and debate,” he said, adding democracy comes after centuries in a country and “we should protect it”.

He said because of disruptions, bills are passed without detailed scrutiny in parliament. “They (BJP) were wrong earlier; the Congress is wrong now”.

He said people were laughing at parliament. “There could be differences, but there should be no acrimony. You have to accept defeat and victory,” he said.

Dua was the editor of the Hindustan Times during 1987-94, editor-in-chief of The Indian Express during 1994-96 and editor of The Tribune during 2003-09.

He served as India’s Ambassador to Denmark from February 2008 to November 2009.

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