The first Budget Session under the MDA government saw a very lively debate in the House and has drawn the interest of the common people to follow the proceedings in the Assembly. It is the first time in the history of the state that one hear people discussed at teashops or the house of the bereaved families about what is going in the august House.
This writer was taken aback when a housewife started a discussion on the topics debated in the house which interest her. They picked the subject debated in the house either from the newspaper or from what they saw reported on Doordarshan which led to the discussion.
Of course there are also critics who blamed the Congress for raising too many questions and some concluded that vociferous criticism by the party against the newly instituted MDA government was a reflection of the failure of the Congress-led MUA government.
People also have the right to ask the Congress how can they expect a government which is not even a month old to be responsible for the wrong in the state. It was also asked as to how can the party have the audacity to even raise so much questions when it was the Congress which is in the helm of power in the last five years and should be responsible for the all the mess in the state.
Of course these are pertinent question, but the fact is that the Congress is now the major opposition group in the house. The Congress is caught in a catch twenty two situation; they were in a sticky wicket where they’re damned if they don’t ask questions and damn too if they ask question. The important question that should be asked is; what is the role of the opposition if it is not to raise question of public interest in the house?
And the second question is what kind of session will we have if we have a quiescent opposition? The Assembly sessions will be dull if the opposition do not raise question, therefore we should congratulate the Congress party for living up to its constitutional responsibility of being a strong opposition.
A strong opposition will not only keep the government on its toes, but to the people of Meghalaya’s credit it; it is also a sign of a healthy democracy that we have a strong opposition in the house. One cannot blame the last MUA government for sailing through every sessions in the last state assembly with very little or no opposition at all.
The fault was not with the ruling but with the opposition in the last assembly which did not live up to the expectation and does not provide a strong opposition to the then MUA government under the leadership of Dr Mukul Sangma.
Now the table has turned and Dr Sangma is the leaders of the opposition in the house and from the current session it is obvious now that the treasury bench cannot take the opposition for granted. Not only Dr Sangma who is a politician of a stature and know the government like the back of his hand; many of the Congress MLAs too are good orators and are also well-versed in the parliamentary protocols which will be a test for the government of the day.
The first budget of the MDA government was praised by many for having its priority right by allocating the second highest budget allocation to education, but on a closer examination one would realise that a large part of the budget allocation will go to paying for the teachers’ salary.
Of course providing a good salary for the teacher is a good incentive for those who are responsible in teaching the future citizens of the state because it can be looked at as an investment on the future. But the question is will the government be able to close disparity gap in monthly remuneration paid to the teachers who falls under different categories although they perform the same job. The other question is also what change this government can bring with the meagre resource that it has at its disposal.
Although the Congress might not like it but the result of the 2018 election is good for the state because for a change we now have a strong opposition in the House.
HH Mohrmen is a freelance writer and environment activist based in Jowai, Meghalaya. He can be reached at [email protected]