The lowering of parliamentary standards across the country no longer raises eyebrows. Walkouts,dharnas and slogan shouting are common in Parliament as well as state Assemblies and,increasingly,so are verbal and physical duals,breaking of furniture and microphones and eviction by House marshals.
However,even by those standards,what was perpetrated by Congress MLAs in the Punjab Assembly on Wednesday was a new low. Among other things,the partys legislators manhandled and assaulted the watch and ward staff,who had objected to the party bringing in a person without a pass into the Assembly premises,slapped and punched marshals trying to restrain them inside the House and occupied the Speakers chair.
Even if the Congress wanted to highlight the plight of the woman beaten up by police in Tarn Taran,an action caught on camera,they did break the law in bringing her in without the requisitory pass. The watch and ward staff,comprising police personnel on deputation at the Assembly,are deployed to,among other things,prevent such unauthorised entries.
Among those in the forefront of this shameful behaviour by the Congress were its young leaders with unenviable track record,such as Kuljit Singh Nagra,Jagmohan Kang and Balbir Sidhu. The one who stood out was first-time MLA Amarinder Singh Raja Warring,part of the Rahul Gandhi brigade,who had defeated Manpreet Badal to enter the Assembly.
The violence came even as the Punjab Assembly was trying to put behind it the incident of a state minister,Bikram Majithia,letting out an expletive on the microphone in the House allegedly in response to a similar abuse by Congress member Rana Gurjit Singh (the Congress later went to town with the recording).
However,if the Congress believes this is the way to match the aggressive Akali leaders or to go one up on them,it has already been proved wrong once. Such threatening postures adopted by its leadership during the last Assembly elections,like Captain Amarinder promising to break the legs of Akalis when the party comes to power and calling for katle-aam (massacre) of rebels,were some of the factors that had boomeranged on the party,giving the Akali Dal-BJP alliance a second successive term in power.
Vipin is Editor,Chandigarh,email@example.com