LAHORE - Egos are high and so are the tempers on both sides of the aisle. Magnanimity is badly missing in the representative house of over 110 million people.

In all honesty, egomania seems to have taken over the statesmanship in utter disregard of the parliamentary norms and traditions.  

For the first time in Punjab Assembly’s history, the budget debate is underway in the absence Opposition which is supposed to perform the role of a watchdog on the government. In a parliamentary system, Treasury and the Opposition are two important pillars of democracy. No government can get legitimacy to its acts without Opposition’s oversight.   

As the things stand at the moment, the two sides have seemingly reached their extreme positions with no chance of coming to an amicable settlement.

Being the senior most parliamentarian and custodian of the House, Speaker Ch Parvez Elahi has greater responsibility on his shoulders to give space to the Opposition. Irrespective of what happened in the Assembly last week, it was expected of him to take a lead to end the stalemate.

But unfortunately he has gone a step further to further alienate the Opposition already boiling at high temperature due to expulsion of its legislators. On Tuesday, the Speaker announced 12 names to be taken in the Special committee to identify six or seven more lawmakers from the opposition benches for punishment. This house committee predominantly consists of the treasury members with only two taken from the Opposition.    

In his media talk outside the Assembly, Ch Parvez Elahi justified his action citing similar bad examples set by his predecessor in the past five years. He also criticized Opposition leader Hamza Shehbaz for his alleged lack of political training and maturity. 

It is expected of a senior politician like Ch Parvez Elahi to show magnanimity by calling back the expelled members. Even though it is the joint responsibility of the Speaker and the Opposition leader to maintain decorum of the House, the former is more responsible being the House custodian. It is highly unbecoming of a seasoned politician like Parvez Elahi to show such an egregious behavior.  

Hamza Shehbaz, on the other hand, should have shown leadership by convincing the parliamentary party to attend the session. Absenting themselves from the Assembly is like giving a free hand to the government to pass the budget with great ease as per its whims.     Also, the issue could have been easily resolved at the level of business advisory committee under the chair of Speaker, had the Opposition leader attended its meeting shunning his ego.

Moreover, the Opposition leader should also ensure his party legislators don’t use indecent language against the Speaker. It is important because the rowdy behavior of lawmakers makes it difficult for the Speaker to act in an impartial manner. Opposition needs to learn how to exercise their legitimate right to protest inside the House. They should also differentiate between a modest protest and the rumpus they often create usually on trivial issues.

Opposition moves to media camp

In a surprise move but for understandable reason, the opposition members on Tuesday moved into the media camp leaving the Assembly stairs where they had encamped since last week. This clever move on their part was meant to save them from the scorching heat as they sat in front of the TV cameras under the canopy. They also held a mock budget debate criticizing the government for its misplaced priorities.