THE UPPER HAND

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The current government’s irritation with the Rajya Sabha not being in its control and jacking legislative procedure brings out an old issue of the Upper House’s relevance

YOGESH VAJPEYI

YOGESH VAJPEYI

Yogesh Vajpeyi is a senior journalist with over 40 years of experience of working with leading newspapers like National Herald, The Times of India, The Indian Express, The Telegraph and The New Indian Express. He is currently writing in various journals and teaching journalism.

Riled by his government’s failure to ensure passage of reform legislation in the Rajya Sabha, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has recently raised the issue of the “indirectly elected” members of the Upper House questioning the wisdom of the “directly elected” Lower House. “To what extent can the indirectly elected House hold reform proposals passed by the directly elected House which represent will of the people?” he asked.

The irony can’t be missed. Jaitley’s parliamentary stint since 1999 has been confined to the Rajya Sabha. Moreover, when the BJP members had blocked several bills tabled by the UPA government through disruptive tactics, as the Leader of Opposition he had then justified disruption as “a legitimate tool of parliamentary democracy”.

Political blame game apart, Jaitley has inadvertently resurrected an old debate about India’s decision to opt for a bicameral system of legislature. And, his is not an isolated voice. Biju Janata Dal leader Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda, who is a member of the Lok Sabha, also feels that the Upper House of Parliament cannot have a “veto” on legislative business as it has today. He has called for reforms in the Constitution to remedy the situation.

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