Parliament sets a precedent, States must follow suit

| SEPTEMBER 14, 2020, 06:00 PM IST

The staggered parliament session is a shining example for States, including Goa, where legislators have used the Covid scenario as an escape route from legislative scrutiny

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Around 30 MPs are reported to have tested Covid-positive on the first day of Parliament’s monsoon session on Monday. This, on any given day, could be a terrifying news point. However, what stands out is the fact that legislators showed exemplary courage to walk inside the hallowed precincts of Parliament and go about the business of the House under stringent norms.

The nation-wide Covid tally had breached the 47-lakh mark on Sunday after 94,372 people tested positive. Amid such a grim scenario, MPs choosing duty over the Covid fear is a commendable gesture that this 18-day monsoon session will be remembered for. Prime Minister Narendra Modi wasted no time in acknowledging the unprecedented situation at hand while also thanking MPs for standing tall in times of crisis. There was a parliamentary requirement to hold a session within six months after the last one ended on March 23, twelve days ahead of its scheduled closure.

Cut into Goa, where there was also a constitutional requirement of passing the budget towards the end of July. If we may recall, the originally 2-week scheduled session was reduced to a one-day formality, with the ruling and opposition members meekly surrendering to the Covid fear. Even the one-day session saw unwarranted theatrics from the Opposition benches forgoing a window of opportunity that came their way.

It’s such an absurdity when on the one hand SSC exams are conducted, supplementary exams are being held, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant says Bivpachi Garaz Na, but legislators refuse to stand their legislative ‘exam’ fearing Covid. The government which shouts ‘fear not’ to its people, cannot be shying away from discharging its fundamental duty.

It is heartening that despite the unrelenting Covid situation the Parliamentary spirit has lived on. While the Opposition had the economic crisis and Chinese aggression on its agenda, the Modi-led government announced it was ready for discussions on every issue. The battle lines were clearly visible. The staggered parliament session is a shining example for States, including Goa, where legislators have used the Covid scenario as an escape route from legislative scrutiny.

Legislators in Goa must take a leaf from the parliamentarians and come out from their comfort zones. It is easy to punch holes at the administration and Covid mismanagement from the cosy confines of conference rooms and residential offices. All the criticism and loud talk mean nothing if legislators buckle under Covid fright, and develop cold feet when it comes to discharging legislative duties.

Goa is facing some serious issues that need to be debated and discussed. The bleak fiscal situation has been the biggest worry. People of Goa need answers, as much as they need to know on Covid management, including procurements and infrastructure. Crucial issues like industrial growth, tourism, double-tracking, major infrastructural projects and environmental protection have to be brought in the public domain. Goa cannot be allowed to be trampled upon by vested interests under the shadow of Covid.

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