- Lok Sabha Speaker said a strong opposition was essential for democracy
- Government should take "positive" suggestions from opposition, he added
- Om Birla also said nation will have a new "temple of democracy" by 2022
A strong opposition is of great importance in a "vibrant democracy", Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said today, adding that he was all for ensuring that its voice was heard in the house. His assurance comes amid allegations that the centre was steamrolling bills through both houses of parliament without taking the opposition into confidence.
"As they (the opposition) have their own political concepts, their own policies, their own governments in some states, I believe in taking them into confidence. Everybody should get a chance to say their piece too. They should get equal time," Mr Birla told NDTV in an interview.
He, however, denied claims that bills were being rushed through parliament without enough consultation. "Most of the bills were passed through consensus with everybody concerned. There was opposition only on five bills. I believe that when the government makes a law, it is for the betterment of the people and the nation. It doesn't matter if the government belongs to the BJP or some other party," he said.
Mr Birla pointed out that debates were conducted on several bills, and "positive changes" suggested. "I do believe that the government should implement positive changes suggested by the opposition. Given that such a large nation is being represented in parliament, it is important that the government pay heed to every suggestion that comes its way," he said.
The Speaker said he was greatly heartened by how productive the parliamentary proceedings have turned out this time. The upper and lower houses of parliament have passed over 28 bills in the monsoon session, including landmark legislations such as the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill and the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill.
Mr Birla also said that India can expect a new, modern "temple of democracy" in another three years. "This parliament house has been with us for a long time. We want to take a decision in this regard in consultation with all stakeholders, and that includes parliamentarians and everybody who works here," he added.