'The Constitution of India is a stumbling block. So, they want a Presidential mode of election.'
'This is the sole purpose of the BJP to go for one nation, one election.'
The Narendra D Modi-led government has called for a special session of Parliament for five days starting on September 18, 2023.
But what Parliament will discuss is shrouded in mystery.
What is so secretive about what Parliament is going to discuss?
Do the people of India have a right to know what their representatives will debate in this special session?
Rediff.com's Shobha Warrier asked John Brittas, the journalist turned fiery Rajya Sabha CPI-M member, what he expects from next week's special session of Parliament.
Did it come as a surprise when the government called a special joint session of Parliament?
If you ask me what the basic strategy of Modi is, it has always been 'shock and awe', if I were to use a military term.
Modi has converted this military strategy to a political strategy.
What does he attain by shocking everyone?
He is using it as his style and thinks he can get his opponents on the back foot.
Even on policies, his actions have been very hasty. For example, the way in which he scrapped Article 370 and divided the state of Kashmir into two Union Territories.
It is a known fact that the BJP is against Article 370. But the manner in which it was done was 'shock and awe'.
Did anyone expect the state of J&K to be made into two Union territories? Nobody did.
This is his style. Shock and awe.
Did calling a special session come as a shock?
Naturally, it did. This government, because of its obstinacy, made the Monsoon session a complete wash out.
If they had an inclination to have a fruitful democratic process on the floor of Parliament, they should have cooperated with the Opposition. But they didn't do it.
And suddenly they are coming out with the idea of having a special session.
Yes, they have taken a lot of people unaware. I can very well say that the political class in the country was taken aback.
Moreover, a Parliament session is convened as per the decision of the Union Cabinet.
So, after an Union Cabinet meet, there will be a press release conveying the decision.
What happened in this case? It was a social media post by the parliamentary affairs minister informing the decision of the Union Cabinet.
Should the government inform beforehand why they are convening a special session of Parliament?
I have not come across an occasion where a Parliament session is convened without a proper perspective, if not an agenda.
What is the purpose of a Parliament session? Generally, the stakeholders know what the purpose of it is.
This is the first time there is no inkling, no invitation, no information, no perspective and no agenda.
Do MPs and the Leader of the Opposition not have the right to know the agenda before a session starts?
Leave alone the Leader of the Opposition, every citizen of this country has the right to know the purpose of a Parliament session.
What is Parliament? It is the meeting of the representatives of the people.
So, it is the right of every citizen to know why his representative is going to meet.
It is not according to the spirit of democracy to put everything behind an iron curtain.
The rumour is that the government wants to change the name of the country from India to Bharat.
Also, they want to implement the One nation, one election idea...
For the first time, the prime minister has given a chance to have speculations on why we have a special session.
Personally, I don't anticipate both these agendas in Parliament.
For example, I don't think it is easy to bring in one nation, one election idea in the special session as it has a lot of intricacies and nuances which needs to be discussed.
I think this would be another action of this government to demonstrate its pomp and grandeur.
Can you have one nation, one election in a federal republic?
It is against the federal spirit. It is against the democratic spirit of the country.
Making a House static for a particular period is against the principle of parliamentary democracy.
If a party loses power and another party is not in a position to form a government, it is the right of the people to elect another government.
You will be compromising the authority and rights of the people by making the House for a particular time period.
Even without having a stipulated term, we see people's representatives are traded left and right.
At least in half a dozen states, the governments have been brought down, governments have been manufactured or concocted by the so called 'resort politics'.
Think about a situation, when a House will not be dissolved for five years. It is like making the representatives of the people a saleable commodity.
One nation, one election is detrimental to the spirit of democracy.
Election is a means for democracy; election is not an end in itself. The so-called proposal is making election an end in itself.
For five years, there will be no election and after five years, there will be an election. Democracy doesn't run like that.
You talk about expenses. Yes, democracy is an expensive mode of governance. And the least expensive mode of governance is autocracy.
Just because you want to lessen the expenditure, can you replace democracy with autocracy or nepotism?
The issues concerning the Centre and states vary, and when you conduct both the central and state elections simultaneously, it is assumed that it will be advantageous for the Centre and disadvantage for the states in the elections.
Do you think so?
I am not talking about which party may gain out of this idea. It is not in the realm of my thinking.
My point is that this is against the federal structure of the country. It is against the spirit of Parliamentary democracy.
Just because it suits the BJP and Modi, the BJP wants to have a Presidential mode of government in this country.
They are unable to do this because parliamentary democracy is the basic structure of the Constitution.
The Constitution of India is a stumbling block. So, they want a Presidential mode of election or campaign.
This is the sole purpose of the BJP to go for this one nation, one election theory. Nothing more, nothing less.
Yes, state issues are different from central issues.
Now, it has gone to a level where local body elections also should be controlled by the Election Commission which is absolutely ridiculous.
Panchayat and municipal elections are handled by the state level election commissioners. So, it rests in the powers of the state.
But this government believes in uniformity and unilateralism. They want a unitary form of government and not federal.
They want unilateralism; they want to take decisions without any consensus or discussion.
They want uniformity when this country is so diverse. But they don't want to respect the diversity.
All the time, they talk about one language, one culture, one religion...
Yes, essentially the one nation, one election is an offshoot of one leader, one ideology, one language, one religion.
Do you think the Opposition alliance naming itself INDIA rattled the BJP so much that they want to change the name of the country itself to Bharat?
And the same party gave an affidavit in the Supreme Court against changing the name...
INDIA has captured the imagination of the people. And the BJP and the government got paranoid by that.
So, when somebody is rattled or paranoid, you can see through their actions, like the way in which they want to change the name of the country.
Their sense of proportion has been lost. There is no balance approach to what is happening in this country.
It is the same government which told the Supreme Court in 2015 that they had no plans to change the name of the country.
What is the need to send out an invitation in English in which it was written Bharat?
What is coming out is incoherent gestures and postures, and that is because they are rattled by the Opposition alliance.
Do you expect a stormy special session of Parliament?
My information is that first, we will have a session in the current Parliament and on the second day -- Ganesh Chaturthi, which is an auspicious day for them -- they will shift to the new parliament.
I am not bothered about the cosmetic sengol model, I am bothered about the content part in the form of deliberation or bills.
The dichotomy of the stand of the BJP is that they were never keen on Parliament sessions.
At least two consecutive Parliament sessions have been washed out completely because of their adamant stand.
So, their sincerity is a question mark. In this backdrop, I am just waiting. I don't envisage that Modi's attitude has completely changed.
My information is that cosmetic issues will be more prominent like moving to the new Parliament on Ganesh Chaturthi.
Nevertheless, a Parliament session is a Parliament session. Let me see how they are going to utilise it, and for what.
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com