Democracy would be more meaningful
The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has said that the stalling the functioning of the Parliament and Legislatures was tantamount to subverting democracy and betraying people.
Speaking after presenting ‘Democracy Awards’ at a function organized by the Maharashtra State Election Commission, in Mumbai today, Shri Naidu, who is the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, said that he was deeply distressed by the behavior of some sections in the Rajya Sabha during the last two years.
The Vice President was pained when members disregard rules and conventions leading to pandemonium in the House. The members of the Rajya Sabha have a special responsibility to lead by example. If MPs and MLAs resort to slogan-shouting and disrupting the proceedings, they would be rendering a disservice to Parliamentary democracy, he added.
Expressing his anguish over the objectionable comments made by a member of the Lok Sabha about a woman presiding officer, Shri Naidu said it was not in our culture to disrespect women. Such behavior would demean our Parliamentary democracy, he added.
Pointing out that the ruling and opposition parties should not treat each other as enemies or adversaries, the Vice President said that respecting the mandate of the people and allowing the governments of the day to deliver as per the mandate must be an essential principle of functioning of legislatures.
Observing that both ruling and opposition parties have a shared responsibility in ensuring effective functioning of the Parliament and legislatures, Shri Naidu urged them to adopt a spirit of mutual respect and accommodation.
The Vice President stressed that democracy was all about debate, discussion and decision and they cannot be replaced by disorder, disruption and delay in legislation “which is nothing but a negation of the spirit of democracy”.
Stating that the basic functions of the Parliament and State Legislatures were legislation, deliberation and ensuring accountability of the executive, Shri Naidu said the opposition can and should take the governments to task if they deviate from what has been offered to the people.
Shri Naidu said the ruling and opposition parties should function as joint stakeholders in the well being of the people and socio-economic transformation of the country. “Our nation needs both effective and responsible governments and opposition. Country’s interests are not well served if either of them is found wanting”, he added.
"As the Presiding Officer of Rajya Sabha, I have always insisted that opposition should be allowed it’s say in all aspects of the functioning of the House. That is the only way we can make our parliamentary democracy more meaningful. We are the largest democracy in the world. We shall be the best in terms of quality as well”, the Vice President said.
On the devolution of powers to local bodies as mandated by the 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments, he said that even though 26 years have lapsed since they were constitutionally empowered, the devolution seems to be less than satisfactory.
The Vice President urged all the States to review the progress made on transferring 29 subjects to them and added that any further delay would be tantamount to violating the constitutional mandate.
Stressing the need for devolving adequate funds, functions and functionaries—three Fs—to empower the Panchayati Raj bodies, Shri Naidu said democracy would be more meaningful and robust when people participate in their own affairs.
Shri Naidu underscored the importance of 5 “D”s in making democracy successful. They are- 1) Discuss 2) Debate 3) Decision 4) Decentralization 5) Delivery
Referring to the 150th birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi Ji this year, Shri Naidu reminded that Gandhi Ji was the biggest votary of decentralization of powers and believed that every village has to be responsible for its own affairs. He said it was absolutely essential for a fully functional and responsive grass-roots level governance system to further strengthen the democratic foundations in the country.
The Vice President also advocated the need to make it mandatory for holding elections to local bodies every five years without giving scope to state governments to postpone them.
The Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri Devendra Fadnavis, the State Election Commissioner, Maharashtra, Shri J.S. Saharia and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.
The Vice President presented Democracy Awards to 15 recipients in different categories.