Individual parliamentarian’s role as the national lawmaker is on a decline, which in turn, has adversely impacted the quality of debates and their outcome. Discuss. (250 words)

Parliament, as the highest platform for holding the executive accountable, has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons in recent years. The declining role of individual parliamentarians and its adverse impact on the quality of debates and their outcome has led to a certain cynicism towards parliamentary institutions and an erosion in the credibility of parliamentarians and parliamentary processes.

Declining Standards of Parliament

  • Absenteeism: The problem of absenteeism in the houses has increased, leading to a decline in parliamentary authority.
  • Frequent disruption and logjams: Disruptions caused by walkouts and gheraos of ministers indicate a declining standard in parliament.
  • Criminalization of politics: A high percentage of MPs in recent years have faced criminal charges, leading to unparliamentary behavior.
  • Anti-Defection Law and Instruments of Whip: The rigidity of party discipline and the anti-defection law have tied down party members, leading to a lack of vision and commitment for nation-building.
  • Ruling parties’ dominance: The virtual monopoly of ruling parties in political power has resulted in the declining legislative output.
  • The politicization of the role of the speaker: The office of the speaker is getting politicized, leading to a lack of confidence in the office and more disruptions.
  • Live telecast of proceedings: The live coverage of parliament sessions has led to a deteriorating quality of parliament.

Way Forward

  • Code of conduct: A strict code of conduct should be implemented to regulate the behavior and attendance of parliamentarians.
  • Minimizing disruptions: All political parties and parliamentary institutions should manage dissent to minimize disruptions.
  • Reserve day for opposition: A day in the week should be reserved for the opposition to set the agenda for parliament.
  • Year-round proceedings: Parliamentary proceedings should be spread out throughout the year to minimize disruptions.
  • Empowering MPs: Individual MPs and MLAs should be empowered to think independently.
  • Wider participation: Wider and more impactful participation in parliament can address some of the causes of disruptions.
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