NEW DELHI: Castigating Congress strategy of disrupting Parliament session after session, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said the party should rue over the fact that “disproportionate and irrational” approach was hurting institutions.
With Congress not agreeing to pass the landmark Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill that will make India one market, Mr Jaitley in a Facebook post titled ‘Stray Thoughts After the Winter Session’ asked if the country has not lost out by delaying the GST since the last year’s Budget Session.
Crediting first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru for laying down healthy precedents in the initial years of Indian democracy, he said “the current generation in control of the Congress Party will find a place in history of having weakened what their ancestors established.”
“How far is it desirable to pass important legislations on the last day without discussion? Statistically, we have passed a law. But has Parliament applied its mind to the law?,” he asked.
Commenting on the Winter Session of Parliament that concluded on Wednesday, Mr Jaitley said parliamentary protests are not unheard of in India and there are precedents of disturbance in extreme cases in the past.
“But the last two sessions have witnessed a clear stand of the Congress Party that Parliament shall not be allowed to function.
“Most of the Congress leaders, in private, have expressed helplessness over the decision of their leadership that Parliament must be disturbed continuously. The moot question which arises for the Congress Party is, ‘how does India legislate?’,” he said.
Finance Minister said the Standing Committee mechanism had worked exceedingly well since 1993.
Important legislations are referred to the panel which comprises of members from all political parties from both the Houses of Parliament.
But this mechanism “has been weakened in the Rajya Sabha, by the House repeatedly appointing Select Committees, questioning the opinions of the Standing Committee. If this tendency continues, a successful institution of Standing Committee could be hurt”, he said.
The GST Bill was approved by the Standing Committee and referred to an all-party Select Committee of Rajya Sabha. This panel too approved the bill in the Monsoon Session, yet the legislation has not passed the muster of the Upper House.
Mr Jaitley said the government, therefore, has adopted an alternative option of a Joint Committee to consider the Bankruptcy Law.
Options like passing the legislation without a Standing Committee or drafting laws in a manner to fit them into the definition of Money Bills have been suggested but these are not preferred options, he said.
“The Congress Party leadership must seriously explore that its disproportionate and irrational approach in dealing with Parliament is hurting institutions,” he said.
Parliamentary democracy, he said, has been India’s foremost strength with different shades of political opinions, regions, states, communities and tribes finding their way in the decision making process in the Parliament.