Aiming to conclude ‘dysfunctional’ Parliament; democracy “out of breath”: Chidambaram

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On Sunday, senior Congress official P Chidambaram said he was drawing the conclusion that parliament had become “dysfunctional” and alleged that democracy was “at the end of its tether” in India with almost all institutions tamed, emasculated or captured.

He also said Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu ‘failed’ to prevent opposition leader Mallikarjun Kharge last week from being summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) when the House was in session.

In an interview with PTI, Chidambaram also dismissed Interior Minister Amit Shah’s remarks linking the Congress protest against Friday’s price hike to the day of the founding of the Ram temple, saying the anniversary of the “Shilanyas” was “far from our minds” when the date for the protest was set.

It was set taking into account that all MPs will be in Delhi on Friday as the vote for the vice-presidential ballot was held on Saturday, he said, adding that one can always twist the logic to blame someone. ‘a.

“It was on August 5, 2019 that the illegal dismemberment of Jammu and Kashmir took place! Let’s leave that aside when we are discussing a serious issue,” Chidambaram said.

Shah had linked the protest by Congress leaders in black clothes over the issues of rising prices, unemployment and the GST hike to what he called the party’s ‘appeasement’ policy to voice his opposition at the laying of the cornerstone of the Temple of Ram by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August. 5 in 2020.

Chidambaram also dismissed the accusation by BJP leaders that the August 5 Congress protest was an attempt to save the party’s senior leadership who are facing questioning by the ED in the National Herald case.

“We had announced and clarified that the demonstrations of August 5 were exclusively about inflation, unemployment and Agnipath. If people pretend to be deaf and blind to the announcement, what can we do? ” he said.

The leaders summoned in the National Herald case are strong enough to defend themselves and they also have the full support of the party base, Chidambaram said.

Asked about ED Summon Kharge during Parliament’s working hours last Thursday, he said it was a “sad day” for Rajya Sabha when the Speaker “failed to prevent” the Leader of the Opposition from being summoned when the House was in session.

“Compare the support given by the US government to Ms. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, during her visit to Taiwan. The executive branch respected the authority and autonomy of the legislative branch. The US government has sent its aircraft carrier to the seas off Taiwan and has also kept air support ready,” he said.

In our country, the executive branch summoned the leader of the opposition when the Rajya Sabha was in session and one of the two heads of the legislature “pleaded impotence”, he said, adding that c It was a “sad day”.

During ED investigations against several opposition leaders, Chidambaram declined to comment on any particular case, but said it was increasingly clear that investigative powers and laws only targeted members of the opposition.

“Institutions have been tamed or emasculated or captured. Democracy is on its last legs. We may have the shell of democracy, but inside the shell has been hollowed out. This applies to almost all institutions, which Shri Rahul Gandhi alluded to in his response (at Friday’s press conference),” he said.

With parliament unable to transact much business during the monsoon session due to frequent adjournments amid opposition protests over a host of issues, including price hikes, Chidambaram said he “turns to the painful conclusion that Parliament has become dysfunctional”.

He claimed the one big reason for this was that the Treasury benches had “no interest” in dialogue, discussion and debate.

“Let me ask you what calamity would have occurred if the government had agreed to a debate under Section 267 on the price hike on the first day? The debate would have been concluded in one day. Instead, we lost two weeks,” he said. Chidambaram also criticized Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for her response to the debate on rising prices in Parliament in which she said India was at no risk of recession or stagflation due to its macroeconomic situation. the fundamentals are “perfect”.

No one in the opposition has hinted at an impending recession or stagflation and these have been set up by the government as ‘straw men’ so that the government can bring them down, he said. declared.

“Our concerns were rising prices and endemic unemployment. Both factors have placed an unbearable burden on the poor and the middle class. The Minister of Finance was obliged to specify the measures that the government intended to take to moderate prices and create jobs. FM didn’t,” he said.

Chidambaram also criticized Sitharaman’s comparisons with other countries, saying they were “odious”.

“The burden of inflation is always relative to income and savings. If a country like the United States has high inflation, remember that Americans also have high per capita income and high savings. In a country like India with low per capita income (less than USD 2,000) and low savings, high inflation places an intolerable burden on the people,” he said.

Chidambaram said he was surprised that Sitharaman did not notice the vital difference between a country like the United States and India.

“To give a trivial example, if an Indian patient has 101 degrees of fever, what is the satisfaction of saying that the American patient has 103 degrees of fever? Both are very sick,” he said.

Opposition members of parliament blamed the policies of the BJP-led central government for the price hike and accused it of ignoring the plight of ordinary people.