A shared failure

Will MPs who disrupt proceedings be named and shamed? This question tells a sad story

Written by The Indian Express | Published: August 12, 2013 12:21 am

Will MPs who disrupt proceedings be named and shamed? This question tells a sad story

Last week,opposition MPs who trooped into the well of the House to protest the defence minister’s statement on the killing of Indian soldiers on the Line of Control were in for a surprise. The Rajya Sabha bulletin carried this summary: “Today (August 7),the chair adjourned the House due to gross disorderly conduct in violation of rules and etiquettes of Rajya Sabha by the following members who entered the ‘well’ of the House and persistently and wilfully obstructed the proceedings.” The BJP claimed to be outraged by this naming and shaming of 20 of its MPs (two TDP MPs were also named),and threatened to not allow the House to function. It found support from other opposition parties,and it has finally been decided that the practice will be discontinued,at least till the next all-party meet. And so came to an end a storm in a teacup that whipped up once again for appraisal urgent issues related to the conduct of parliamentary proceedings.

The BJP has taken a narrow view of the incident. It demanded to know why its MPs had been chosen for the honour,when in fact Congress MPs,too,had earlier disrupted business with their interventions on proposed statehood for Telangana. But it was less forthcoming in explaining why such exceptional measures are problematic,let alone how its conduct as the largest party of the opposition in forcing legislative paralysis in the course of the 15th Lok Sabha has made punitive actions appear less tricky than they should be in a parliamentary democracy. Debate on disciplinary means has been in the air for some time now,and Rajya Sabha Chairperson Hamid Ansari has been particularly eager to rescue the House from the disruptive zeal of an unrelenting minority. For example,in a meeting he called in April,many proposals were put on the table,including naming offending MPs,even suspending them,and deferring telecast of proceedings.

At the next all-party meet,a call may be taken on withdrawing the names. But political parties would be delusional if they don’t see that the incident has framed their collective responsibility in making these past sessions an embarrassment for Indian democracy.

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