“Baith jaiye. Shaant ho jaiye”. These words have been part of the staple joke in 2011. The serene Meira Kumar with her signature smile, chiding MPs who disrupted Parliament on a regular basis for one demand or the other – this had been the regular scene on TV studios.
A year and quarter back, when the 16th Lok Sabha was sworn in, with the Bharatiya Janata Party commanding a brute majority, one had thought passing Bills would be a cakewalk for the ruling coalition now. Little did one anticipate that one year down the line, the same old scenes of ruckus would resurface and crores of tax payers’ money would be flushed down the aisles of the hallowed portals of the Parliament.
Now, the BJP is singing the “government tune” calling the Opposition for debate and discussion on the floor of the House, urging them not to waste the valuable time and money of the Parliament. In a role reversal, the Congress has struck to the “No resignation, no discussion” stand taken up by the BJP in the Monsoon-Winter Sessions of 2010.
Every minute of Parliament disrupted costs the exchequer Rs 2.5 lakh. As per some fan pages of Narendra Modi on Facebook, the disruptions in the previous week cost the nation Rs 27 crore. These pages blamed Congress for blocking key bills (rightly so) and said they were punishing the voters for rejecting the grand old party.
That made me think. As someone who has been keenly following Parliament sessions, the memories of 2010-11 are still fresh. BJP need not lecture others on smooth functioning of the House when their own leaders had made comments like “obstructing Parliament is also part of our daily work” or “disrupting Parliament is in national interest”.
And when it comes to calculating the loss to the exchequer caused by disruptions, BJP’s record is hard too match:
Monsoon Session – BJP obstructs Parliament. Loss 70 hours.
Winter Session – BJP does not let Parliament function. Entire 125 hours of the Session wasted.
Loss of 76 hours as Opposition holds the House hostage.
78 hours lost in Monsoon session and 59 hours in Winter Session as BJP demands resignation of various ministers.
73 hours lost again due to disruptions by various Opposition parties.
Total time wasted- 422 hours
This roughly amounts to a loss of Rs 63300 lakh crore to the exchequer. Now tell us what all we could have done with this money BJP wasted? For one, a financial package could have been given to West Bengal!