India’s monsoon parliament session ends in debate and disarray: Key highlights and unresolved Issues

As the monsoon parliament session of India concluded on Friday, it has once again fueled several controversies—from chaos over the opposition’s no-confidence motion and heated conversation over ongoing ethnic violence in Manipur. Several bills were introduced in the House during the parliament session with an aim to make changes at the core of the system.

One of the most highlighted parts was the comeback of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, and the sparking conversation over Manipur issues by different political leaders including the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who spared 10 min of his over two-hours long speech on it. Besides this, Modi-led NDA government defeated the non-confidence motion in Parliament on Thursday after a three-day debate in the house. The ongoing violence between two ethnic communities—Meitei and Kuki—in Manipur has raised concerns among Indians as the state is going through a brutal civil-war-like situation without much effective efforts to restore peace in the valley.

Rahul Gandhi’s comeback as MP/Manipur violence/No-confidence motion
Rahul Gandhi in his first parliament speech after his defamation conviction suspended by the Supreme Court of India directly blamed the BJP-led Central government for its negligible actions in the state and demanded the government’s resignation. Rahul Gandhi called out PM Modi for not responding publicly to the Manipur unrest. “You are throwing kerosene on the whole country. You threw kerosene on Manipur and lit a spark,” Gandhi said in the parliament debate. “You’re set on burning the whole country. You are killing Mother India,” he added. Gandhi criticized Modi for not visiting Manipur when the state is going through such a crisis. He said, “Modi can at least go to Manipur, talk to the communities, but I don’t see any intention. I have full faith in the Indian army. Everyone knows it can stop Manipur violence the moment it is asked to, but the government is doing nothing”.

PM Modi in his response to the no-confidence motion brought by Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi said, “the people of the country have repeatedly reposed trust in our govt, want to thank them all”. PM showed his confidence among the people of India, said, “No-confidence motion always lucky for us; this one also will ensure we will return with a record-breaking mandate.” While PM barely made any strong statement regarding any concrete solution to restore peace in Manipur, he pledged the country to support the violence-hit Manipur and assured that “Manipur will soon see the dawn of peace and the state would be back on the path of progress”.

Smriti Irani calling Rahul Gandhi “misogynistic man”
The Wednesday debate took another turn with Irani accusing Gandhi of blowing a flying kiss in the Lok Sabha while leaving parliament, calling him a “misogynistic man”. The union minister expressed her outrage, said that the House had never witnessed such an “indecent act”. Later, BJP women MPs met Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla with a complaint signed by more than 20 women parliamentarians demanding “stringent action” against Gandhi.

Several bills proposed and passed in both the Houses
In a major development, the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023 was passed by a voice vote in the upper house of parliament on 7 August after it was passed in the Lok Sabha on August 3 with 131 MPs voting in favor of the bill, while 101 votes were against it.

Passing the Delhi ordinance bill will give power to the central government over transfers and postings of senior officers in the Delhi government that has led to widespread controversy among the political regime of India. The central government brought in the Delhi ordinance just a week after the Supreme Court handed over the control of services in Delhi, excluding police, public order, and land to the elected government, headed by CM Arvind Kejriwal.

On Friday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah introduced three Bills—Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), 2023, to replace the Indian Penal Code, 1860; Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS), 2023, for The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973; and Bharatiya Sakshya (BS) Bill, 2023, for the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.

All three bills are aimed at amending the laws and bringing key additions into the existing laws such as enabling speedy justice through video trials, e-filing of FIRs; a new provision on mob lynching, punishable by seven years imprisonment or life imprisonment or the death penalty; expanding the definition of sedition; bringing corruption, terrorism, and organized crime under the penal laws; introducing community service and solitary confinement as new forms of punishment; holding trials in the absence of an accused; and expanding the scope of the offense against women pertaining to sexual intercourse.

Introducing the three laws in the House, Shah said, “The new laws that will replace the colonial laws will place a citizen’s constitutionally guaranteed rights at the center and protect them. The aim will be to provide justice, not to punish,” he said. “I assure the House that these three laws will have an Indian spirit and ethos, and will bring a big change in our criminal justice system,” Shah said in the Lok Sabha.

The Rajya Sabha also introduced the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and terms of office) Bill, 2023, and the Post Office Bill, 2023. It also passed the Pharmacy Amendment Bill, 2023, before adjourning for the day. In the Rajya Sabha, the government passed the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2023; the Anusandhan National Research Foundation Bill, 2023; Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2023; and the Coastal Aquaculture Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2023, in the absence of the Opposition.

Suspension of AAP MP Raghav Chadha
On Friday, The Aam Aadmi Party MP Raghav Chadha was suspended from the Upper House of Parliament until the privileges committee submits its report. Chadha has been accused of “gross violation of rules, misconduct, defiant attitude, and contemptuous conduct” for allegedly not taking the consent of five Rajya Sabha MPs before including their names in a proposed select committee for the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

The motion of suspension was moved by the leader of the House Piyush Goyal, who called Chadha’s action “unethical,” accusing him of a breach of privilege. On Friday, Chadha issued a statement in response to his suspension, saying, “My suspension serves as a stark message from the BJP to today’s youth: If you dare to ask questions, we will crush your voice. I was suspended for asking tough questions that left the BJP, the world’s largest party, without answers through my speech in Parliament on Delhi Service Bill”.

Home Minister’s misleading remark on Kuki community coming from Myanmar
During the parliamentary debate on Wednesday, Home minister Amit Shah claimed that 2021 military coup in Myanmar led many Kuki’s crossing the border and settling in Manipur for their safety.

He also said that an organization named Kuki Democratic Front is fighting in Myanmar against the military leadership, which was later refuted and further clarified by the Kuki National Organisation in Burma, who wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, said that there (Burma) was no Kuki outfit in the country called the Kuki Democratic Front, as claimed by Mr. Shah in his speech.   

Shah’s remark has hurt the sentiments of the community and given an impression of agreement with the description of the Manipur crisis as given by the Meitei majoritarian Manipur government, which can be destructive given the current situation in Manipur. Union Minister’s remark has been critisied by all 10 Kuki MLAs from Manipur, including eight from the Bharatiya Janata Party, asking that he should give details behind his claims.

The monsoon session of the Indian Parliament ended with blame-game politics with proposing and passing some crucial bills that would shape India’s political landscape. The parliamentary debate was more like a classroom debate where one trying to win over other by only making rhetoric comments. PM’s speech was full of himself with least concern about Manipur and not a word on very recent violence in Haryana. Rahul Gandhi’s comeback was just not enough and the Home Minister’s misleading speech would lead to more chaos.

As India celebrates its 77th Independence Day, the country contemplates its democratic discourse, with the hope that these deliberations will pave the way for effective governance, meaningful reforms, and a path towards resolving pressing challenges.

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