A Parliament Without its Once Glorious Decorum
Distressed by constant disruption of the Parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has claimed that “Government has the least to lose due to din in Parliament. It is the country which loses the most.” The Parliament is a forum to debate and even criticise the government, he said in pointing to the need for legislative institution to function. Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu echoed the sentiment and called upon the opposition to be responsible — for the government to become “more responsive”.
It is now the time for all our law makers to introspect their roles in Parliament. It is not only the prime minister or the vice president. The parliamentarians have become that unruly that it is hurting the dignity of the ‘Temple of Democracy.’ Instead of transacting business, the Indian Parliament these days has become (in)famous for disruptions, adjournments. The ruling side blames the opposition for such a sorry state of affairs. On the other hand, the opposition parties maintain that that the responsibility of the government is to run the Parliament smoothly. Meaning, it is the government which is to be blamed if the Parliament does not function properly.
However, both the sides should realise that by blaming each other the situation will not improve. It is not a case of win or loss. For the Parliament to work, both shall have to cooperate. Ask any parliamentarian of the yesteryears: all of them will inform that they did not have the courage to defy the Chair those days. They were duty-bound to finish their speeches within the time stipulated for their speeches. Crossing the time limit used to be considered a blot on the parliamentarian. To avoid such an embarrassing situation they rehearsed speeches. But now it has almost become a rule to continue speeches well beyond what has been stipulated for speeches. Repeated appeals to finish their speeches on time have virtually no effect on current politicians. Our parliamentarians should realise that being undisciplined, they are actually bringing disrepute to Parliament.
The best example of how blame games affect the functioning of the Parliament was the impasse during the previous Budget session over the No Confidence Motion. Due to the confrontational attitude from both the sides, it became the least productive session of the past 18 years. It is difficult for anyone to understand why the Parliament was stalled during the budget session and how it would solve things at the very beginning of the Monsoon session? Further, curtailing the Parliament session for other reasons such as state elections has also made it largely insignificant. Not so long ago, the Parliament session was delayed for almost a month due to the Gujarat assembly elections as Union ministers were busy in campaigns.
So, no one is in a position today to blame others for the parliament not functioning. Everyone is responsible for such a sorry state of affairs. The prime minister or the vice president cannot skip their responsibilities by talking about the disease only. They will have to suggest remedies too. Similarly, senior leaders of all the political parties should sit together to decide that they will be ruthless in punishing their members if their actions bring disrepute to the house. Only then shall the Indian Parliament regain its lost glory.