| Without sense
Sir — The haphazard introduction of various bills in Parliament shows an apparent lack of strategy on the part of the Congress and the United Progressive Alliance government (“Play-safe govt pulls N-bill,” March 16). The party might have jeopardized its position in power, first through the introduction of the women’s reservation bill and then the nuclear liability bill.
There is now talk of consulting all shades of political opinion on the women’s reservation bill before it is brought before the Lok Sabha, and of lowering the percentage of reserved seats to 20 from 33. The nuclear liability bill, which was passed by the cabinet, created a furore when it was listed under ‘business of the day’ in Parliament, prompting the government to stall its introduction in the Lok Sabha. The UPA now plans to hold further discussions on the bill before it is tabled in Parliament.
Inexplicably, the UPA government did not think of holding these discussions earlier, and smoothing the way for the bills in Parliament. It seems to rely on the Opposition’s propensity to create an uproar and walk out. In the confusion that ensues, the bills are hastily voted on and passed. The Opposition staged a walk-out on the issue of price rise, and a number of its members were bodily lifted and thrown out of the Rajya Sabha in the chaos following the introduction of the women’s reservation bill. Furores in Parliament always seem to work in the UPA’s interest. Such irresponsible behaviour is a murder of democracy and shows a lack of accountability on the part of the Congress.
S. Kamat, Bardez, Goa
Sir — The photograph of the Bharatiya Janata Party leader, Sushma Swaraj, embracing the politburo member, Brinda Karat, after the woman’s reservation bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha shows how low our politicians can stoop (“Women on top,” March 21). The fact that both are women is no justification. When a bill is to be passed in Parliament, it should be appraised on the basis of its merit, without considering whether or not it helps a particular community or a section of people.
The reservation of seats, in educational institutions or in Parliament, is a sensitive issue. In a bid to swell their vote banks, politicians aggravate problems through reckless legislations. Moreover, constant debates and revisions on topics of gender and religion only delays the functioning of the government.
Benu Kumar Bose, Calcutta
Sir — The Left Front, the Congress and the Trinamul Congress want to avoid the creation of a separate state of Gorkhaland but are also unwilling to invest energy in the development of the hills (“Test-fired: Morcha and central plans for hills,” March 16). To give the region its due, the parties would have to make up for more than 50 years of callousness and neglect. But none of them is likely to spend that much time on an area that contributes a few seats in the state legislative assembly.
Politicians in the state government and at the Centre can only judge the situation in the hills from a distance. They have no experience of the ground realities there and no idea of what needs to be done to alleviate the problems of the people. Over the years, instead of helping the public, they have only made things worse through a series of half-baked measures.
It is hoped that West Bengal’s new governor, M.K. Narayanan, would repair some of the damage done in the hills by the state government.
C.K. Bhattacharjee, Mumbai
Sir — Although the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has tempered its demand for a hill state, it is still worrying that it wants a separate public service commission, which is a privilege reserved only for actual states. It is also surprising that the Centre has agreed to absorb the Gorkhaland Personnel, which has led the disruptive agitation for so long, into the security forces.
Amit Banerjee, Calcutta
Sir — There have been talks of reconstituting the House of Lords in Britain as an elected body on the lines of the American Senate (“Labour’s love lost,” March 20). The Indian Constitution, at its inception, had borrowed heavily from British traditions of governance. If the British parliamentary system gets changed, India might also consider taking steps to abolish the Upper House, at least in state governments. The state legislative councils or Vidhan Parishads serve little purpose. They are maintained at public cost to accommodate political favourites. Abolition of the Vidhan Parishads would considerably reduce the strain on state exchequers.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal, Dariba, Delhi