By Manish Anand
New Delhi, February 11: Radha Mohan Singh may not be back in the Lok Sabha again if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sticks to phasing out elder leaders from electoral politics. He was Union Minister for Agriculture in the first tenure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre, and he was given a consolation to head a parliamentary standing committee on Railways in the second tenure of the BJP-led government.
Singh came out with a press note on a report of the standing committee on Railways in the last week of the 17th Lok Sabha. His press note came out better than the work of the press relation officer of the Railways. Singh listed out the achievements of the Railways in the last 10 years. He even parroted an age-old ‘babugiri’ of the Railways that the passengers pay only 53 per cent of the cost of the travel through the national transporter. The report and the press note were without a single sentence of the critical appraisal of the Ministry of Railways.
Those who are uninitiated in the parliamentary practices may know that the standing committees are known as mini parliament. A healthy democracy makes it incumbent upon the standing committees to be headed by Opposition leaders. Such panels are meant and designed to be a check on the functioning of the ministries. In a way, they exercise the function of the parliamentary checks on executive.
Reflecting on the sea-change in the functioning of legislative organs, a seasoned political observer recalled the dressing down given by senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad to the former telecom secretary RS Sharma. Prasad was the chairman of a standing committee. He had given a full-course of lessons to Sharma on the significance of the parliamentary standing committees.
The 17th Lok Sabha is now in the realm of contemporary history. The last five years of parliament delivered top headlines such as scrapping of the special provisions of Article 370. Old parliament became a relic of past. A new parliament was unveiled. The last business of the 17th Lok Sabha was a discussion under Rule 193 on the consecration of the idol of Ram Lalla.
Modi shared lunch with Opposition MPs in the parliamentary canteen. He shared the culinary delicacies with the fellow parliamentarians after 146 members of the Opposition were suspended in both the Houses of parliament were staging ruckus. Modi bid farewell to them by giving them parting shot of proximity.
The last session of parliament also called the Budget session was least acrimonious. There were no disruptions. Modi attended more days in parliament than he normally does. He also spoke more in both the Houses of parliament. He has said that he would retain power with greater strength in parliament to unveil big initiatives. When those big initiatives indeed unfold, there are signs aplenty that there may not be any questions.