Lawmakers are elected to work for the people, not indulge in childish behaviour | editorials | Hindustan Times
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Lawmakers are elected to work for the people, not indulge in childish behaviour

By throwing paper balls at the governor and blowing whistles during his address UP MLAs have again sullied the image of the assembly. How long will our lawmakers keep indulging in bad behaviour?

editorials Updated: May 16, 2017 22:26 IST
Uttar Pradesh assembly
Samajwadi Party members throw paper balls at Uttar Pradesh governor Ram Naik on the first day of the state assembly session in Lucknow, May 15(Ashok Dutta/Hindustan Times)

The first session of the newly-elected Uttar Pradesh assembly was a picture of anarchy with MLAs from the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) flexing their collective muscle by disrupting governor Ram Naik’s address. Throughout the 35-minute address, SP legislator Rajesh Yadav kept blowing a whistle to ensure Naik couldn’t be heard. His colleagues also used the opportunity to throw paper balls at him, some of which hit the governor despite marshals trying to shield him with files. Indulging in behaviour that would put churlish schoolchildren to shame, the MLAs ensured that the customary address of the governor to the joint sitting of the two Houses of the state legislature was drowned out in the commotion.

The incident isn’t an aberration. A few months ago, during a trust vote for chief minister EK Palaniswami in Tamil Nadu, Opposition DMK legislators broke the furniture and microphones, threw files and even occupied the Speaker’s chair. The mayhem began when speaker P.Dhanapal rejected a demand by former chief minister Panneerselvam and the DMK for a secret ballot. TV visuals showed DMK legislators surrounding and pushing the Speaker. “They tore my shirt and insulted me,” Dhanpal later told reporters. In 2009, the Andhra Pradesh assembly had seen a brawl where 46 MLAs including N Chandrababu Naidu refused to leave the House even after their suspension. The Parliament, too, witnessed ugly scenes in 2014 when the use of pepper spray, broken glass and microphones converted the Lok Sabha into a battlefield.

Normally, damaging public property or smashing tables, chairs or microphones outside the precincts of Parliament or assembly would invite criminal prosecution. But owing to the immunity built into our constitution, shameless lawmakers get away with bad behaviour.

Blowing a whistle during the speaker’s address and throwing paper balls at him is a sign of immaturity on the part of the lawmakers. At a time when the SP and the BSP should be looking inward and analysing the reasons for their electoral debacle, they were busy disrupting the assembly. Derailing the proceedings of a state assembly at taxpayers’ expense isn’t what our lawmakers were elected to do. It is time they set their house in order.