A House-hold matter
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With both Houses forced to adjourn for the day, two unhappy signals were sent out on Tuesday. One, that the lull in parliamentary disruption was short-lived. When it began earlier this month, the opposition had demanded an adjournment motion on the violence in Kokrajhar, and the government had conceded without much ado, defying the pattern of protracted wrangling between the two sides on sensitive issues. Clearly, what looked like a welcome break from the past was only a temporary respite from congealed hostilities. Two, the opposition's squalling over the CAG report on the allocation of coal blocks shows that no lessons may have been learnt by the dead-end that another high-decibel furore over corruption ran into very recently. The political opposition could have drawn a crucial lesson from the Anna Hazare mobilisation: that there are diminishing returns in merely crying out loud. Or, corruption is too serious an issue to be left to political theatrics. It needs deliberation and the painstaking working out of solutions. With Parliament in session, the opposition would serve its own cause better by forcing a discussion on the CAG report that compels the government to respond, rather than beginning with a maximalist demand for the PM's resignation and then stalling the House when the government predictably refuses to oblige.
The BJP-led opposition insists that since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held direct charge of the coal ministry in the period under the CAG's scrutiny, he is squarely in the dock. The government insists that the CAG's estimate, of a loss of up to Rs 1.86 lakh crore, is inaccurate and misleading. Even disregarding what the government says — it suffers from a vast credibility deficit on corruption, real as well as imagined — there are valid questions about the CAG's method of calculating losses on the basis of coal blocks not being auctioned. If the corruption debate is not to remain just a noisy spectacle, and the government is to be genuinely held to account for its real lapses, all questions must be discussed and debated on the floor of the House. Only then can there be talk of solutions.
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