Special Session of Parliament:
Attempting to restore the credibility of parliamentary democracy

A Special Session of Parliament was held between September 18 and September 22.

The main item on the agenda of the Special Session was a discussion on “Parliamentary Journey of 75 years starting from Samvidhan Sabha – Achievements, Experiences, Memories and Learnings”. On the Second day of the special session, parliament moved from the old parliament building, to the new parliament building, which had been inaugurated earlier this year. The first bill presented in the new building was the Womens Reservation Bill, called the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam. The bill was passed unanimously by the Rajya Sabha, and near unanimously in the Lok Sabha, with only two members opposing it. The Special Session was adjourned a day early, as it had completed its business.

In his speech on “Parliamentary Journey of 75 years starting from Samvidhan Sabha – Achievements, Experiences, Memories and Learnings”, the Prime Minister declared that those who have kept predicting that parliamentary democracy would fail in India have been proved wrong. He said parliamentary democracy has developed deep roots, and parliament has become more and more representative of Indian society over the years. He extolled the contribution of successive governments to the development of India, from the time of the first government of independent India under Jawaharlal Nehru. The standing India has in the world today, is the result of the contribution of all, past and present. He applauded the contribution of all past and present Members of Parliament irrespective of which party they may have belonged to.

The Special Session and the Prime Minister’s speech must be seen in the context of the recent attempts of the BJP government to weaken and destroy several opposition parties. Various central investigating agencies have been used to target individual leaders of opposition parties. There have been repeated incidents of rabid communal hate mongering and attacks targeted at religious minorities. The BJP government has been systematically attacking democratic rights and civil liberties, using draconian laws such as UAPA to incarcerate all those who are critical of the government. There is widespread concern that if the BJP wins the 2024 General Elections, it will rewrite the Constitution to make India a Hindu Rashtra, pass a Uniform Civil Code, establish one country one elections, replace the parliamentary system with a Presidential form of government, and further cut back the powers of the states. BJP and its allied organizations are already campaigning on many of these fronts.

The Special Session of Parliament was an attempt to refurbish the image of the BJP. By repeatedly swearing allegiance to the Constitution, and extolling the contribution of the Constituent Assembly, of all past governments, and of parliament, the Prime Minister tried to blunt the propaganda of opposition parties that it wants to change the present system of parliamentary democracy.

One of the main aims of the Prime Minister’s speech was to reassure the Indian and world bourgeoisie that BJP can be trusted as a responsible party of the ruling class, which would not do anything to rock the boat of the system of parliamentary democracy in place in our country.

The BJP government deliberately tabled the Women’s Reservation Bill in this session, knowing well that it would be supported by the majority of political parties.

The Special Session must also be seen in the context of the declining credibility of the system of parliamentary democracy in recent years.  The credibility of this system has been weakened by the extremely antagonistic relationship between the party in charge and the opposition in parliament.

In recent years, bills have been passed without even a semblance of discussion in parliament. The functioning of parliament has been regularly disrupted, with ruling and opposition benches blaming each other for such disruptions. Among broad masses of people, parliament has become increasingly discredited. The concerns of workers, peasants are not even discussed in parliament, as was the case when the three anti kisan laws and the four anti worker labour codes were passed in 2020.

The truth is that it is not possible to make the existing system credible and acceptable to the people. Parliamentary democracy has always been a democracy for an exploiting minority, the bourgeois class. As the means of production are getting more and more concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, decision-making power is also getting more and more concentrated. The system of parliamentary democracy excludes the working class and toiling masses — the vast majority of the population — from decision making powers. Police powers are increasingly being used to suppress all dissenting voices.

The conditions are crying out for a fundamental change – from bourgeois democracy to proletarian democracy, a system in which the toiling majority of people exercise decision-making power. Workers and peasants must be able to select and elect those they trust, hold them accountable and recall them if they do not act in their interests.

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