When the Trinamool Congress twirled umbrellas in the House on Tuesday, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan asked them to not ‘introduce new styles of protest’. TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee later said twirling umbrellas was one of his party’s ‘styles’. Dharnas outside the House and storming of the well inside have long been ways to protest for MPs. But, and especially since proceedings have begun to be telecast live, MPs have employed other ways to seek attention as well — some of them amusing, some not quite so. SEEMA CHISHTI recalls.
In Indira Gandhi’s heyday in the early Seventies, when the “foreign hand” was seen to be at work, the maverick Swatantra Party MP Piloo Mody came to the House wearing a large placard-like badge which announced,‘I AM A CIA AGENT’, to protest the characterisation of every opposition move as a conspiracy hatched overseas.
The strategy of tearing up copies of legislation has been employed the most visibly with the women’s reservation Bill. RJD and SP MPs have been the most active, and the tearing has often been accompanied by physical pushing and jostling of women MPs.
A supplementary strategy to tearing was seen in March 2010, when just before the women’s Bill was passed by Rajya Sabha, SP MP Kamal Akhtar asked for a glass of water, and then proceeded to break the glass — he would likely have caused himself an injury as an act of defiance, had he not been escorted out forcefully.
In February this year, then Congress MP from Vijayawada Lagadapati Rajagopal, managed to sneak a can of pepper spray into the House, and used it in the well to protest the Bill to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh. His idea was ostensibly to create conditions that would stall proceedings and make the passage of the Bill impossible. He later said he had sprayed in “self-defence”.
Rail Ministry seeks operational control of GRP
New Delhi: To ensure better security, Railways has rebooted a two-year-old proposal to amend the RPF Act that gives more powers to the Railway Protection Force as well as grants it operational control of the Government Railway Police (GRP) — a proposal that was, incidentally, opposed by Narendra Modi as Gujarat CM when it was mooted in 2012. On Thursday, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu told the Lok Sabha in a written reply that an amendment to the Act will “empower the RPF to deal with more serious crimes in the passenger area”. In his oral reply, he requested states to come on board to develop a system of integrating the GRP with the RPF. “Only a few states are supporting it. I am intending to write a letter to CMs requesting them to allow us to do this.” Prabhu said 17 states had opposed the move. ENS