Naidu says worried over deteriorating functioning of legislatures

New Delhi: Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday expressed concern over what he said was deterioration in the functioning of legislatures, saying it was eroding the credibility of public representatives in the country.

“The growing hold of legislators over the Executive, dispensing favours for a consideration, criminal antecedents, spurt in assets after election, display of placards and banners inside legislatures, persistent disruptions, defections and electoral malpractices are eroding the credibility of elected representatives and thereby posing serious challenges to parliamentary democracy,” Naidu said.

He was speaking at the valedictory session of the first National Legislators Conference organised here by the Indian Parliamentary Group on the theme “We For Development”.

The Vice President stressed that both political parties and people have a responsibility in ensuring that persons with the right antecedents get elected.

“Legislatures are certainly no places for displaying placard and banners. Legislators cannot claim to be agents of development if they indulge in disruptions and demonstrations inside the legislatures.

“While some efforts are being made to address this problem, more needs to be done to ensure that only persons with the right antecedents make it to Parliament,” Naidu said.

He pointed out that Parliament is “no place to fight or use threatening words like ‘will see you outside'”.

“Slogans should be shouted outside Parliament, not inside.”

Emphasising on the need for restoring the legitimacy of legislators, Naidu said: “This requires the MPs and MLAs to focus more on their legitimate functions of lawmaking, democratic mass mobilisation and participation, effective articulation of public concerns, acting as an effective bridge between the governments and the governed and not unnecessarily encroaching the domain of the Executive.”

Naidu, who is also Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, said that democracy is a forum for negotiated solutions for the bettering of the lives of the people and urged the elected representatives to desist from a confrontationist approach to enable effective functioning of legislatures.

He said: “Both the ruling and the opposition parties shall be guided by the spirit of accommodation in the larger public interest.”

Even as the range and the number of challenges emerging from the advent of the forces of globalisation and rapid technological advances are on the rise, the number of sittings of legislatures across the country is declining, he said.

“Informed and quality debates of yesteryears have come to be replaced by persistent disruptions as the new norm of parliamentary articulation.”

Naidu said that since independence several far-reaching legislations have been enacted by different legislatures that helped the country make strides in various fields but much more needs to be done to tap into the untapped prodigious potential in the context of the country becoming more aspirational.

He urged the legislators to be a part of the participatory development process instead of acting as extraconstitutional authorities.

The Vice President also stressed on self-introspection by legislators on work done by them on an everyday basis, which he said was essential for self-development.

Naidu said that legislators have a greater role in changing the mindset of people, thus development should be the focus as people are demanding it and observing it. “People should, therefore, be in the centre of developmental policies and we need to make them partners in development,” he said.

In her closing remarks, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said that development should be sustainable and we should have a continuous dialogue with all stakeholders, including at the grass-roots level.

“The legislators should not restrict development to aspirational districts only, but to all districts. We all have to be alert and create awareness among people about the government schemes and policies so that benefits of development trickle down to every nook and corner of the country,” she said.

She thanked the delegates for their keen interest, minute observations, suggestions and meaningful interaction with the Union Ministers and senior parliamentarians.

Addressing the delegates, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said a legislator’s credibility emanates from his conduct and the parameter for judging his credibility is ‘peer recognition’, both inside and outside the house.

“As such, it is imperative that they imbibe the norms of parliamentary decency and decorum for successful working of democracy,” he said.

Referring to the Goods and Services Tax as an example of Centre-State coordination, he emphasised the need for exploring the feasibility of effective harmony between the Centre and states in other areas such as agriculture and social justice.

Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said there is no dearth of technology or knowledge but what the legislators require is a strong political will and a vision to achieve the kind of development they aspire for in times to come.