iconimg Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Hindustan Times
February 21, 2014
Many people must be heaving a sigh of relief that Parliament has ended. Now, for some time, we will be spared the sight of our elected representatives frittering away our money by engaging in the most counterproductive and vulgar conduct in the House. This session has really set some of the most undesirable benchmarks in our chequered parliamentary history. First, we had the contentious Telangana Bill introduced by a government in a hurry to consolidate electoral gains in Andhra Pradesh.

It gave the Andhra Pradesh MPs from all parties an opportunity to show the nation what they are made of, and the sight was not a pleasant one. We had an MP bringing a can of pepper spray into the House after which at least three asthmatic MPs had to be taken to the hospital and the Speaker had to vacate her chair choking. Then we saw a TDP MP roughing up the Rajya Sabha general secretary and hurling abuses all around. And these are just some of the unsavoury antics our MPs indulged in. Efforts to extend the session to pass some of the anti-graft Bills came to naught in the face of opposition from several parties. This really shows that most of them are not serious about wiping out corruption which is a scourge on our society today.

Given that people are signalling their disillusionment with the manner in which politics is conducted at present — the AAP victory in Delhi is an indication — one might be forgiven for thinking that our MPs would conduct themselves more circumspectly. But, in fact, the opposite was the case. This session also saw an unprecedented black-out of the Lok Sabha proceedings as the Telangana Bill was being pushed through. Though the Bill was passed according to procedure, the black-out of the telecast made the whole thing needlessly suspect. Many people who are keen watchers of parliamentary proceedings will find it difficult to recall when they last heard an informed debate among our MPs. Many of them are outstanding orators and extremely knowledgeable. But we rarely get to hear them, having to listen instead to those who have superior lung power.

Since errant MPs refuse to listen to reason, they must face punitive measures including being stripped of their privileges for disrupting Parliament. There are many ways to make your views heard, and none of them include shouting each other down or engaging in violence. They would do well to recall the phrase ‘beware the fury of a patient man’. It will serve them in good stead given that elections are just around the corner.