`The role of the Speaker has changed with time'
What could the Speaker do in turbulent times like these? All cannot have the charm of P A Sangma, who in a situation like this, quietly ignored Congressmen shouting slogans demanding the dismissal of the BJP-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra, says Gursharan Dhanjal.india Updated: Aug 15, 2002 17:47 IST
It is widely accepted that Parliamentary democracy is a system of governance which has to evolve and grow taking into its fold the native realities and requirements. It necessarily involves certain broad parameters of working and envisages certain principles and policies of public ethics as its functioning base. Over the years, the face of the Indian Parliament has undergone a dramatic transformation reflecting the socio-political development of the nation as a whole.
To play a meaningful role as members, it is necessary for them to have a proper perspective of the place of Parliament in our polity. Necessarily speaking, if this was the case, then the task of floor management and maintaining discipline and decorum in the house could have been easier. As it is, Parliament today has becoming a talking or better still, shouting shop. What it really needs to do is to closely watch the functioning of the Government and influence its performance for social good. The proceedings generally become noisy, leading to pandemonium and turmoil, thus making the job of the Speaker doubly difficult.
Speaker Manohar Joshi, the newest incumbent in the office, ran into trouble in the recently adjourned Monsoon Session of Lok Sabha, relating to issues raised in the Lok Sabha regarding Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origins. This enraged the Congress members and the leader S Jaipal Reddy asked the Speaker to direct the member to withdraw his remarks unconditionally. The issue was resolved but not before the House was adjourned thrice.
As though this was not enough, the petrol pump issue not only stalled the proceedings of the House but ultimately led to a sine die adjournment. The House witnessed uproarious scenes when Congress, Left Party, Samajwadi Pary and RJD members trooped to the well raising slogans like “Ram Naik isteefa do” and “gali, gali mein shor hai, Ram Naik chor hai.” Yet somebody else yelled in the Rajya Sabha, “Ye nayak sekhalnayak bhan gaye”which was countered by BJP members shouting "doob maro doob maro.” The inevitable followed, the adjournment.
What could the Speaker do in turbulent times like these? All cannot have the charm of P A Sangma, who in a situation like this, during his times, quietly ignored Congressmen shouting slogans demanding the dismissal of the BJP-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra and the Shiv Sainiks countering it with a demand for the sacking of the Bihar Government.
His patience gave up after 35 minutes when he quipped, “What is the difference between the Parliament of India and the Boat Club?” And then, he threatened to resign, if the disorder continued. In the same breath, he said, “I am not going to adjourn the House.” And that “he was prepared to sit through the disruption for the whole day and night.” This led to the resolution of the ruckus in the House, and the worst was over followed by thumping of desks for the Speaker. Kudos to art of floor management by Sangma. I am sure, all of us have heard of “Please, please, please, please, please…” by Sangma umpteen number of times. This was all very natural and worked as a coolant to the rising temperatures in the House.
(Dr Gursharan Dhanjal is a writer on political affairs in the capital)