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Curbing Obnoxious Behaviour of Parliamentarians

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By S PAUL

Being a Bhartiye, my head hangs in shame to see how our parliamentarians, defying the speaker and all the decorum of our ‘temple of democracy’, conduct themselves during a session. This particular incident, mentioned in GP dated 7 February, 2020, would not have occurred if the highly educated (a qualified medical doctor) Minister of Health had obeyed the Speaker and replied relevantly to the query of the opposition, instead of proceeding defiantly to berate a leader of the opposition for his earlier public utterance, derogatory of the PM. What followed was ruckus and indiscipline of walking into the Well of the House and physical jousting in defiance of the decorum and discipline of the House. If educated parliamentarians defy the Chair, how do we expect those, who have no other trait but to shout and be the ruffians they have been in the streets, to be respectful to the system? We have developed our parliamentary system of democratic governance on the British/American/European pattern. But we have not based the behavior of our parliamentarians on their decorum and disciplined manners during parliamentary sessions. Immediately after gaining our independence, under the gentlemanly conduct of our President, the then PM and other stalwarts, such chaos and ruckus was never seen in a session. The conduct has gradually deteriorated as certain political parties in power, in order to create a numerical majority, started taking the support of minor political parties from states which were increasingly dominated by criminally inclined local dons. These are the ones who have now brought their street dominating acts into the temple of democracy. It is no less than sacrilege and the members who represent people must be duly chastised on the floor itself. The marshals are being used for escorting unruly members out of the House. That may now be required to be implemented more often and certain marshals trained to physically take such elements out of the House by force. Such an eventuality is bound to occur when an MP with criminal background becomes unruly. The government in power may also consider posting a detachment of the NSG to handle such rowdy parliamentarians. After all NSG is not for flaunting their might but for the security of our lawmakers from each other, also. Recent news is of great significance in this direction that the RS is considering imposition of a ban, during the session, on voting by a member who walks into the Well of the House in protest. It is a good beginning, but stricter disciplinary actions are needed to control shouting, sloganeering, damaging the property of the house, speaking out of turn and defying the Speaker. The TV cameras covering the session for live broadcast must immediately focus on the individual or a group of unruly parliamentarian to show the people their faces. Such an exposure may shame the people and legislatures that elected these uncouth netas to represent them in the Upper House. Such video records then should also be made available to the media and the election commissioner to black list such unlawful ‘netas’ from contesting elections in the future. Their allowance for the day also must be forfeited. If such members persist in behaving in this manner even after being cautioned and punished, they should be barred from the session. The Lok Sabha, too, needs such disciplining with more firmness. Many more drastic steps are needed to improve the quality of our parliamentarians. One that comes to my mind is a total ban on anyone with criminal record or undergoing trial for criminal activities or undergoing punishment for any criminal involvement to be able to contest any election. Would it be improper to ask our intelligentsia to take up the cause for such reforms for the sake of our beloved nation, Bharat? Almost all political entities try and create their nurseries at college students’ level. The young mind is so impressionable that they learn to become rowdies like their mentors instead of disciplined political leaders as taught to them by their teachers through playacting, etc., like the mock parliaments. One can gauge the beginning of dirty politics at the students’ level by observing the election conducted for students’ unions. They paste posters and paint graffiti on the walls of their alma mater and the town itself with impunity. They start taking out processions through the public roads, obstructing traffic and inconveniencing people. They even take out victory marches through the town, with some of them under the influence of intoxicants. Should the public accept such indulgence by their wards, sent and financed by them to study and add to their academic knowledge? I feel that, either such students’ unions be by law rendered apolitical, or students should not be permitted to indulge in union activities in imitation of labour unions, as long as they are ‘students’. If at all, let ours be a nation where a student remains a student to learn and not interfere in the governance of the nation. They may even not be permitted to vote as long they are ‘students’. Sounds rather harsh, but see how much chaos, stress to their guardians and public and harassment to the administration they cause by being immaturely indulgent in political activities. I sometimes wonder what happened to the ‘guru-shishya’ equation of respect and concern in our culture! Have we ever heard such students’ related unrest caused in their countries by Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, MIT or other well known institutes of studies? They are there only to look after the freshers and help the staff in matters academics only. I would urge the readers to research this on the net and find out for themselves. But here we are only spawning disgruntled educated self-seeking loud mouth youth who may in future even be elected by our gullible voters. But would they make responsible leaders or just rabble rousers like the parliamentarians of today? Much more needs to be done to improve our practice of politics which at present has no resemblance to Chanakya Niti. We need to practice discipline at that highest level if we aim to become world leaders.