On Monday, we noticed that MPs sitting in the Opposition benches of the Lok Sabha were quiet for a while. Just before we could misunderstand the situation — believing that they were following the ongoing proceedings with great intensity — we were told that the silent MPs were protesting against Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee’s reference to 32 ‘indisciplined’ MPs last week to the Parliamentary Privileges Committee.
Usually, oppositional protests in Parliament amount to resorting to the guerrilla tactic of turning the House into a fishmarket — and, on certain momentous occasions, letting things fly. This time, however, the sulking MPs, upset that they have been reprimanded for being ‘too loud’, decided to keep shut.
At first glance, the silent MPs looked as if they were in deep thought. On closer inspection, we gathered that their fingers were on their lips, so as to drive home the message that a collective display of a maun vrat was on. Mr Chatterjee had little choice but to adjourn the session. One can’t help but feel sorry for the Speaker because one of his jobs is to keep the flow of speech from various MPs going. With one end clamming up, Mr Chatterjee was worried that he would be without a de facto day job.
But like all happy things, this too was resolved amicably with the silent MPs deciding to ‘speak’ again and Mr Chatterjee withdrawing the reference against the 32 MPs. Considering the fact that parliamentary debates are usually non-existent or a cacophonic rumble, one can’t help but wonder whether the monastic silence wouldn’t have been a welcome change.