Tuesday, August 16th, 2022 00:09:22

Indian Parliament At A Crossroads

Updated: March 8, 2014 3:49 pm

During the parliamentary discussions held on the 50th year of our independence, it was agreed upon by all political parties to cleanse the electoral system and rid politics from the clutches of criminals and anti-social elements. Further, the statesman and politician of the day called for stringent disciplinary action against such persons and for espousal of collective sense of accountability to the nation. The recent incidents of what happened in Parliament show the double standards of our lawmakers.

India has had a long shameful history of parliamentary pandemonium, however nothing could be as disgraceful as the use of pepper spray by a parliamentarian to disrupt proceedings. The Congress MP from Vijayawada, Lagadapati Rajagopal, wielded the mace can in the Lok Sabha in a desperate bid to stall the introduction of the Telangana Bill. Even the Speaker herself was affected by the substance, and quite a few members required medical attention. The MP claimed that he had used the spray in self-defence. It was also a reminder to the rest of the world that Indian politics—seen here as the fast track to wealth—is a no-holds-barred affair.

Legislative business is often the casualty of unseemly behaviour. En masse eviction of whole groups of legislators is quite common in State Assemblies. Parliament has been more democratic and tolerant but this restraint has often led to a small group of aggressive members blocking key legislation, such as the women’s reservation bill.

Though skirmishes between MPs in the Parliament is not a new phenomenon, what this incident points to is the utter disregard and disrespect our MPs and MLAs have for the rightful moral obligations and duties they have to discharge as representatives of the collective will of the citizens of the country. It is appalling to witness the rapid decline in the standards of MPs and their conduct. The cherished dream of the country of being governed by rightful, responsible and visionary representatives of the citizens seems to forever remain a distant mirage. Parliament has been too often held hostage to the whims of hooligans who disrupt and disregard the reputation of the country and citizens they represent.

Parliament is the seat of power, and the highest standards of honour, respect and duty to the Constitution must be upheld without any compromise. Every member of the house in his capacity as a people’s representative is duty bound to follow the ethical code of conduct and should involve himself in serious debates and deliberations on issues that plague the nation. It should not relegate itself to become a house of pandemonium where petty personal vendetta and insignificant issues receive “larger-than-nation” mileage and real issues of concerns to the common citizen are debunked and debased.

In the last elections, the defeat of DP Yadav, Mohammed Taslimuddin, Mukhtar Ansari, Atiq Ahmed, Surendra Yadav, Prabhunath Singh and Munna Shukla was an indicator that Indian politics has come of age but the recent incident disproves it. Indians join politics only to make money and for power. Most of the 300 crorepatis in Parliament were not even lakhpatis before joining politics. India should take a page out from US democracy, felons should be banned from voting and contesting elections.

Lack of appropriate political culture and ethical conviction together with utter disregard for the law of the land makes our MPs a bunch of buffoons. Ignoring such incidents will very seriously erode the belief and trust of the common citizen in the prudence of our leaders and would lead detrimentally to quite burial of democratic pillars. There must be rules, if Parliament is impaired, Indian democracy will be in great peril. Everyone in Parliament has to take blame for that catastrophe.

Former Supreme Court judge and the present Press Council of India Chairman, Markandey Katju, recently said, “90 per cent Indians vote in droves like sheep and cattle. They are like a herd of cattle voting along caste and religious lines. Because Indians vote like livestock, there are so many criminals in Parliament. I won’t vote because my vote is meaningless. Votes are cast in the name of Jats, Muslims, Yadavs or Harijans. Democracy is not meant to be run like this. Why should I waste my time in joining the cattle queue?”

Deepak Kumar Rath

Deepak Kumar Rath

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