Democracy Dethroned

Posted in politics, society, Uncategorized by Nehaa on December 8, 2009

The world’s best play-write could not have scripted it better, and as one watched the scenes unfold, one couldn’t help but credit the star cast for their stellar performances at a time when the stage was set for some of the most important debates in recent times.

Act 1-  (The Lok Sabha)

(watch here)

Pandemonium for over 75 minutes as the Opposition chanted slogans to derail the Home Minister’s reply to the debate pertaining to the Babri Masjid and the Liberhan Commission report.

It apparently all began when a certain Mr. Beni Prasad Verma, a member of the Congress Party,  used demeaning remarks against Vajpayee, who is among the leaders of the BJP that have been indicted by the Commission’s report.  Two adjournment motions, and an apology from the Home Minister weren’t enough, as members of the BJP and Shiv Sena staged protest, chanted slogans, and in an act of supreme maturity threw paper balls at treasury benches.The members stormed he Well as soon as Chidambaram began replying to the two-day discussion on the report. Slogans were raised hailing Vajpayee,  while senior BJP leaders like L K Advani and M M Joshi, who have been held culpable by the Commission, were conspicuous by their absence.  The Home Minister continued his reply amidst the din that ensued, speaking through the mayhem, and was apparently lauded for a job well done (by holding his own) by the members of his party.

Act 2- (The Punjab Assembly)

(watch here)

The second day of the winter session of the Punjab Assembly was highlighted by complete lawlessness, when ironically, the topic of discussion was the law and order situation in the state. A scuffle ensued between ruling SAD-BJP and Opposition Congress members when Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal was making a statement over the law and order situation including Ludhiana violence.  Members of the Congress began to raise slogans against the Government, and, with a further disregard for decorum, tried to forcibly climb the stairs leading to Chair of the Speaker.  After being stopped by the Marshals, the Opposition members rushed towards the seat of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. When they approached Badal’s seat, the Siromani Akali Dal members got up and then started the scuffle between treasury bench members and Congress MLAs, forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House. Even after this, the Congress members climbed atop the table of reporting staff of the Assembly and raised anti-government slogans.

Act 3- (The Rajya Sabha)

(watch here)

Six members of the Upper House, whose questions were listed for reply were absent from the proceedings of the House, leading a visibly upset Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari to wonder if the “virus” of absenteeism by MPs during Question Hour had spread to the Upper House. Those absent included Varinder Singh Bajwa (SAD), Prabha Thakur (Congress), Nand Kumar Sai (BJP), Sabir Ali (LJP), Rajeev Shukla (Congress) and S Anbalagan (AIADMK).  It is pertinent to note that the members were found to be absent for the second consecutive day. Ansari had earlier remarked that this problem is going to be addressed soon.

The latest in an embarrassing slew of incidents of complete breakdown of decorum and  propriety in seats of government and legislation across the nation does little to erase from memory previous incidents of such pathetic disorder. This is taking it too far for even Freedom of Speech and Expression!

The Lok Sabha met over two days (7th and 8th of December) to debate one of the most important events in the history of modern India, the Babri Masjid demolition. Quite ready to use it as a baton of election manifestos over the years, when the time came to debate and rationalize a report that spent 17 years in the making, and read like the who’s who of India’s political circles, the House of the law making body in the nation turned into a veritable bedlam of attention seeking self glorifying hooligans who seemed to be slugging it out for their two seconds of fame. Disrupting proceedings of a red letter day in the Parliament with expressions of wild glee etched across some of their faces, these members seemed to be  absolutely unaffected by the matter at hand, one that has remained a source of religious strife and political tension these years past. 75 minutes of precious time, set aside for debate, quite readily and unabashedly swept away to indulge in frivolous and childish games of “He said- She said” and one-upmanship.

Cut to the Punjab Assembly, where a debate on law and order, continued into a complete breakdown of the same within the Assembly itself.

So grave seems to be the disrespect members have for their posts and what they represent,  that a breach of conduct is quite regular, proven by the clipped remark of the Rajya Sabha Chairman.

Waste of time, waste of tax-payers’ money, mockery of elections, mockery of issues that shape the nation and are responsible for strife across its length and breadth… everything important reduced to pithy attention seeking behaviour from spoilt brats, in a matter of minutes.

What is eroded isn’t the non existent reputation of these members, nor the  precious little faith that the people have in political entities; but, it is the sanctity attached to the institution of the Legislature, the idea, the values and the beliefs it represents as the law making body of every single citizen of the country. Each word in that phrase carries with it a large amount of weight- law, citizen, institution are not words to be taken lightly, let alone be made a mockery of. In a nation where democracy is the touchstone of Governance, upholding the sanctity of the very Institution that represents the Will of the People is the least that is expected from every member who walks those halls, and takes an oath to discharge their duties to the best of their abilities, where taking personal digs at each other is but of course, an integral part of the whole process.

The sense of dread increases with every passing incident of this sort. It’s a matter of time before we begin to dismiss these incidents, given the alarming rate of their frequency, and given the fact that once the initial hullabaloo dies out, there’s precious little, if ever, that comes out of it.

At a time when democracy, the core of  Governance in India is being threatened by acts of terror from within and outside its borders,  such ridiculousness at a time which warrants seriousness is despicable to say the very least.  When oft cited reasons for any rebellion against the State include failure of the State to achieve its objectives, a mockery of democracy in any form is heading for a free-fall towards disaster. Maybe its misplaced to read so much into lack of decorum inside the House, but just to clarify, it’s not so much reading into the behaviour, but more into what the behaviour may be perceived to be- a complete lack of interest in pressing matters of national importance, and therefore, signaling sheer incompetence and disinterest.

If this is what we as a nation call a Government, and a platform for a civilized debate, democracy and stability are in boiling hot water.

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One Response

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  1. Mika said, on December 9, 2009 at 12:24 am

    The Abu Azmi-MNS-oath fiasco has to figure in the hall of fame.

    Add to this the deplorable state of affairs when it comes to passing Bills with no debate whatsoever, in the House.

    Do you see a possible solution?

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