The beauty of Indian Democracy was best visible when the President of the most powerful country in the world came to India, delivered a historic address to both the Houses of Parliament collectively and wrote in the Golden Book of Indian Parliament, “Greetings to the world’s largest democracy from the world’s oldest democracy.” An Indian Communist leader walked up to him & said, “Sir, we granted universal adult suffrage to all even before the United States granted the Afro-Americans the same” which metaphorically meant that Mr President, even though your country’s democracy maybe more tried and tested but legitimately our democracy is older than yours as we gave everybody the right to vote even before you all gave Afro-Americans the same liberty and to be precise that happened after this very President to whom this Communist leader was talking to, was born.
But it’s a great shame that this great democracy of ours witnessed on the 29th of December, ‘fleedom’ instead of ‘freedom’ at midnight. The midnight mayhem was orchestrated and choreographed by the Government of India who shot from the shoulders of the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and hid under the blanket of Parliamentary rules and regulations to avoid a vote on the critical Lokpal Bill inside the Rajya Sabha since they did not have the required numbers to veto the amendments put forth by the Opposition and get their version of the bill passed. It is really ironic that this very Government kept on telling a set of agitators and protestors that the Parliament is the ideal place for debate and discussion where laws can be amended, made and passed but when the entire country came near the cusp of something extraordinarily historic, this Government ran away to avoid political embarrassment.
What was even more shameful was the fact that the Parliamentary Affairs Minister offered the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha an opportunity of passing the Bill in the same form as it was done by the Lok Sabha, thus literally advising the Rajya Sabha to toe the line of the Lok Sabha and depriving it of its intrinsic right of amending and passing the bill in an entirely different form. This Government had the required numbers and a working majority in the Lok Sabha and therefore, it did not shy away from a vote in the Lok Sabha but when it came to the Upper House where the Government was facing a real test, this Government tricked the entire country and got the House abruptly adjourned. It was all pre-planned, meditated, manipulated and I am sorry to say that the Vice President, who also happens to be the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, connived with the Government in ensuring that the voting doesn’t take place.
The House repeatedly asked the Chair to clear the air on some of the speculation going around that the House wont function after midnight but the Chair refused to put an end to all the speculation by clearing the din. The Opposition led by Mr Arun Jaitley, was willing to stay back all night to discuss and vote on the bill including all the 187 amendments proposed but the Government cited exhaustion of constitutional time limit. The Government should have set aside its pride but they didn’t do so. Had they done so, the Rajya Sabha would have passed a different version of the Lokpal Bill which would have been good for our democracy and a joint sitting of both the Houses would have been summoned but the country did not get an opportunity to see that because of the cowardice of the incumbent Government. All of us now have to wait till the Budget Session to see the Lokpal Bill get passed and this Government will require to do lots of clarifications and explanations to justify the ‘choreography’ which took place inside the Rajya Sabha.