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Tragedy of the limping parliament


IN a parliamentary democracy, the tasks of ensuring the transparency and accountability of the government are mainly those of the parliament, its select committees covering the ministries and public accounts and supremely by the members of the parliament themselves. Question time in parliament, debates, etc., also add to this process. The media also has an important role to play in putting pressure on government to account for its actions. But in the Bangladesh situation, apart from the media, other institutions, including the pivotal parliament, are seen hardly playing a role in this regard.
The parliamentary committees are the real watchdogs over government' activities. These bodies can mount pressure on the government of the day by compelling the various ministries to disclose their activities for scrutiny and detection of wrong doings and lapses or otherwise. But these committees have hardly performed during the last thirteen years. Not only in the committees, the members of parliament belonging to the main opposition party have been absenting as a whole from the parliament continuously since its formation except for a few days of their inconsequential attendance.
The parliament, the working of its committees with flair and having the full participation of the opposition in them, participation in debates and question time by the opposition in parliament. etc., are at the heart of trying to make the government acceptable and transparent. The same also help to keep politics contained safely to the floors of parliament and removes the ground for economy-damaging hartals and other acts.
However, the tragedy of Bangladesh is its limping parliament although an effective parliament requires both to play -- the ruling party as well as the opposition. It is obvious that the parliament's ineffectiveness is the main reason for the missing accountability and transparency of the government.
Rezaul Karim
Baridhara, Dhaka