Sikkim's sole MP P.D. Rai says the continuing non-functioning of Parliament is jeopardising the interests of smaller parties like the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) and is preventing them from raising important issues concerning their states.
Referring to the ongoing gridlock in Parliament over various issues, including the Rafale fighter jet deal, Rai said it was not only undermining the interests of the regional parties but also trampling their rights.
"Already two weeks have passed and there is no work in Parliament. This is having a very, very negative impact on smaller parties like us. Because we want the government to bring an amendment to the constitution for the Limboo-Tamang seats for which we have been fighting so long," Rai told IANS.
The lone MP of the SDF said that he is under instructions from Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, who is also the party president, to raise issues like the state's long-pending demand of expansion of its assembly from 32 to 40 seats and reservation for five seats to the Limboo and Tamang scheduled tribe communities.
"In 2016, the Supreme Court had directed the Government of India to give justice to the Limboo-Tamang communities. The government of Sikkim has given its responses within 2016... and now it is 2018, and the central government is still not able bring it in Parliament.
"In fact, it has not been brought to the cabinet," he said, urging that if a bill is not viable, an ordinance must be promulgated by the government giving effect to the same.
He also wanted to rake up the issue of giving tribal status to the 11 left-out communities from the border state under Article 371F of the Constitution of India but could not do so because of the continuous deadlock in Parliament.
"The way Parliament is not functioning has a direct impact on smaller parties like us. Because we are just waiting, we are not going into the well of the House... we are not able to participate in Question Hour or Zero Hour or any of the parliamentary proceedings. It becomes a total waste of time... In many ways our right to be heard in parliament is being trampled," he said.
He said that be it Rafale or any other issue between the BJP and the Congress, this should not be such a bone of contention that the entire Parliament functioning comes to a halt.
"The whole institution of Parliament today is being jeopardised by this kind of behaviour by members of both the opposition parties as well as the treasury benches," he said, accusing the ruling dispensation of not reaching out to the opposition on contentious issues.
"What I recall in the 15th Lok Sabha, the government would reach out and by this time (two weeks) things were settled down. But there seems to no such settlement right now. I am most disappointed as the rights of the people of the Sikkim and even other parts of the country are being taken away by this kind of behaviour," he said referring to the UPA government agreeing to a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the alleged scam in allotment of the 2G telecom spectrum that had rocked Parliament then.
"That time the Congress did agree at the end of the day. Also a discussion was allowed on the floor of the House. Similarly, the BJP could also do that. In my opinion they could also do that, but why they are not doing this is you have to find out from them," he said.
(Brajendra Nath Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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