Parliament sans Parliamentarians

N S Venkataraman

Going by the comments from the people in twitter and face book, it is evident that they, by and large, approve the decision of the Lok Sabha speaker to suspend 25 MPs for indisciplined behaviour in parliament. Many people seem to think that such a move is long overdue and some stringent steps should be taken to make the parliamentarians behave. The suggestion that no work no pay policy should be applicable to MPs appear to be receiving popular support. The fact that the political leadership of various political parties are ignoring such under-current of thought in the country, only reflects on the prevalent low standard of the leadership of various political parties.

The argument of the opposition parties that they are justified in obstructing the functions of parliament since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) adopted the same methods earlier, only shows that the standards set for themselves by the politicians are no better than that of the street urchins. When BJP obstructed the parliament session earlier, this was criticised by the Congress-led UPA government and BJP really lost face with the people. Even today, the image of BJP suffers due to such behaviour in the previous parliament. However, can this bad example set by BJP earlier be a justifiable reason for the Congress MPs disrupting parliament now?

It is now reported that due to disruption of parliament, more than Rs 100 crore of tax payers' money have been wasted. Many people have now even started thinking that the country can now do as well without these disrupting and indisciplined parliamentarians, who seem to have no reputation to lose. The sad fact is that the image of India as a parliamentary democracy is now being tarnished around the world, as disruptions of parliament are widely reported and watched. In such circumstances, any thought amongst observers as to whether India is paying too big a price for its present democratic set up cannot be faulted.

What is strange and unacceptable is that even the former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, who is known as an erudite scholar and a cultured politician, is not protesting against the tactics and approach of the leadership of his own party. On the other hand, Dr Singh himself was seen with a black band participating in the protest outside the parliament, instead of sitting inside parliament and taking part in debates and discussions. Even the pledged admirers of Dr Singh appear to be disappointed.

Under no circumstances, disruption of proceedings of the parliament by parliamentarians belonging to any party can be justified. The very concept of parliamentary democracy is that the differences would be discussed and debated and if the differences persist, the decision would be taken on the basis of voting. The opposition parties should have the maturity and responsible attitude to obey the decision taken in the parliament after voting by members, even if it would not be to their liking. If they want to protest and campaign against such decisions, they can certainly do around the country and not by way of disrupting the proceedings of parliament. This is how a matured democracy must function. If the members, by adopting disruptive behaviour, would not allow healthy conditions to prevail, then they should be deemed to be of low and unacceptable standards.

Some people are debating as to whether matter of utmost priority facing the country today is to protect the interest of the nation from the control of indisciplined parliamentarians. This is a grim scenario that may have disturbing consequences for the larger national political stability, if allowed to persist. Do the present day parliamentarians have the wisdom and political will to understand this?

Vol. 48, No. 9, Sep 6 - 12, 2015