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All right thinking citizens will have no problem with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla’s decision to suspend seven Congress MPs for their disruptive behaviour. They have been banned from participation for the rest of the ongoing session. In fact, one of the MPs had claimed that entering the Well of the House was normal behaviour, indicating fundamental ignorance about not just parliamentary decorum, but also the reason why there exist such institutions instead of battling issues out on the streets.

Unfortunately, these MPs will be treated like heroes by their parties and, in fact, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary described it as partisan behaviour on the part of the Speaker undertaken at the behest of the government and promised to continue with the disruption. While, this time, it is the Congress making the news for such abuse of democratic norms, almost every other party has been guilty of the same time at one time or another. The tradition of healthy debate has not been developed in the two Houses and, in fact, has shown a serious decline. Considering that they are elected ‘representatives’, it would be natural to assume that this is what the voters want.

Democracy has emerged from experience gained over thousands of years. At its best, it allows matters to be dealt with on the basis of logic, argued effectively by a nation’s best minds. Since there cannot be unanimity on all issues, the convention has been established to respect the will of the majority. That these decisions do not violate the fundamental beliefs of a society, checks and balances have been introduced in the way of the courts, a free media and regular elections. Some laws, such as those against crime and violence, are enforced by the state. It is when these conventions become weak that incidents such as the Delhi riots take place.

Why would the people submit to the law when on a daily basis they see their representatives insult it, thinking themselves immune to the consequences? All must bow before the majesty of the law, particularly the powerful ones whose influence would allow them not to if they so desired. The common person would respect the law on seeing the rich man in the Rolls Royce quietly pay the challan, instead of the usual response of ‘do you know who I am?’ Instead, people have been encouraged to break the law for the benefit of politicians, which is why it has now become common to see individuals threatening policemen with guns in full view of everybody. About time those who encourage such anarchy in a modern society also begin to suffer the consequences. Don’t just leave it for election time.