The occasion was celebratory, the mood sombre and the message clear: Parliament is supreme but needs to do more to set its house in order.
Meeting to celebrate 60 years of Parliament in the backdrop of a sustained campaign against its members by civil society groups such as Team Anna, MPs on Sunday passed a resolution pledging to “uphold the dignity, sanctity and supremacy” of the House.
“In our own way, each one of us shares the blame for this state of affairs,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in his address, kicking off a discussion at the special sitting of the Rajya Sabha on 60 Years Journey of the Indian Parliament. “We should firmly reject those who would mock the institutions of democracy that have evolved over decades of experience.”
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi emphasised that the integrity and independence of Parliament had to be preserved and protected at all cost, “with no room for compromise”.
It was a sentiment that reverberated through the day in the Lok Sabha, too, before the two houses passed the resolution.
Even the BJP, which backed Anna Hazare and Ramdev through their campaigns, reiterated the institution’s supremacy. Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said amid applause, “Cynicism leads to anger. Anger can lead to crowd on roads. But it is Parliament which is accountable; mobs are never accountable. And, therefore, there is no substitute for the credibility of parliamentary institutions.”
Lalu Prasad was scathing in his attack. “In the name of lokpal, they are using the language of gheraoing the MPs... they are calling us thieves and dacoits," the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief said.
Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen’s Asaduddin Owaisi accused “fringe elements” of trying to override parliamentary supremacy.