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Not Enough

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The decision of the Lok Sabha Speaker to suspend agitating members of the AIADMK and TDP for several sessions can be described as too little, too late. Street type disturbances in Parliament cannot be good for democracy and indulging in them is an insult to the people’s mandate. Tolerance for all kinds of disturbances has lowered the bar so far that proper debate on any subject is such a rarity that it attracts comment. Such behaviour does not only hamper proper discussion, it invariably deprives the smaller parties and independents, representing the marginal sections and states, from having their say. In such an environment, it is inevitable that parliamentarians fail to learn and practice the skills that are essential to formulating policy and legislation.
This strictness has come at the fag end of the Lok Sabha’s term. If it had been adopted earlier, the House would have functioned much better and governance become easier. The true picture of every party’s position would have become clearer, preventing the debate being held elsewhere in the shadow of fake news and unsubstantiated allegations. In fact, the opposite has happened and Parliament’s safeguards against lying and defamation have been greatly challenged. The dignity of this all important institution has been regularly violated, with members – for different reasons – feeling entitled to do what they will. Behind this approach is the belief that the common people are incapable of good judgement and can be fooled over and over again. Perhaps past successes encourage this conviction.
The Speaker and the Government may have believed that adopting strictness in the House would be construed as misusing a brute majority, but this regard has not been reciprocated. It has been considered, instead, a weakness. Liberties have been taken as never before, to the extent that even the Prime Minister’s personal space has not been spared.
However, even for the little time that remains, it would be good if the two Houses function in the proper manner. Without recourse to disturbances, the members will be forced to do their actual job – have informed debates so that proper laws can be enacted. Everybody will get an opportunity to speak. The people, too, will be able to see the exact capabilities of their representatives and the contribution they make. Come election time, they will also be able to make informed decisions on whom to return to this august House.