During the Budget session of the Gujarat Assembly, which concluded Friday, Speaker Ramanlal Vora had to apologise to Congress MLA from Viramgam Tejashree Patel for using an unparliamentary expression against her. As she put forth her point on March 17 when the House was in session, Vora asked her not to be “oversmart”. In the Assembly where use of words has symbolic importance, a comment on “smartness” is marked as an unparliamentary expression.
Every MLA is given a copy of a book published by the Gujarat government — Asansadiya shabdo ane shabd prayogo ni yadi (List of Unparliamentary Words and Expressions), being compiled since the first Assembly in 1960 after Gujarat separated from erstwhile Bombay Province.
A copy of the book is available with The Indian Express, containing a list of unparliamentary words and expressions, use of which in a particular context have been marked as “unparliamentary”, “undesired”, “unreasonable” and “improper” by respective Speakers of the House over the years.
The list includes expressions like “Italy ni vyakti (a person from Italy)”, “adivasio ni langoti (Loincloth of tribals)”, “kachinda (chameleon)”, “Alibaba ane 40 chor (Alibaba and 40 thieves)”, “Congress ma motabhage darupivavala che (In Congress, most people are those consuming liquor)”, “Gandhiji na nalayak kaputo (Undeserving sons of Gandhiji)”, “Goebbels ane jhuthana (Goebbels and lies)”, “chamcha (sycophants)”, “gheta na tola (Mob of sheeps)”, “ghuvad (an owl)”, “dalal (an agent)”, “tamasho (tamasha)”, “Nagpur tune”, “nonsense”, “Fascist”, “befooling the House”, “brute majority”, “bhatai (sycophancy)”, “magar na ansu (crocodile’s tears)”, “Mahatma Gandhiji ni khoon karnar RSS nu biju naam Jansangh (Second name of RSS which killed Mahatma Gandhi is Jansangh)”, Nathuram Godse, “rajakiya khichdi (political khichdi)”, “lollipop”, “Shaitano Bible tankva nikalya (Satans are out to read the Bible)”, “stunt”, “smartness”, “Hitler, killer and Goebbels” and “Congressiya (Congressmen)”.
The list also includes apparently innocuous words and expressions like “khoti charcha (unnecessary discussion)”, “khoti rajuaat (false presentation)”, “garbad ane gotala (problem and scams)”, “torture”, “dakhalgiri (intervene)”, “bumbarada (shouting)”, “bumabum (shouting)”, “Virodh paksh na loko (people of opposition)” and ‘’shadyantra (conspiracy)”.
For instance, Goebbels ane juthana was added in March 2006 when a member of BJP asked the Opposition why the public was not coming to them despite the Goebbels propaganda and spreading of numerous lies about the government.
“Nagpur tune” was added in February 2003 when an opposition member told BJP MLA “that a tune is made in Nagpur and played through a fife in the entire country”. The phrase was added to the list with a remark that it is unparliamentary to say that any political party was “playing a tune”.
Secretary of the Assembly D M Patel said, “On their discretion, respective Speakers have marked those words or expressions as unparliamentary. Many times such words are ordered to be removed from the record by the Speaker during the House proceedings or after the proceedings after we bring to the notice of the Speaker that they are marked as unparliamentary.”
Patel said, “Sometimes even the Speaker uses some words which are marked as unparliamentary and s/he allows its removal after we bring it to his/her notice.”
The Assembly is the top legislative body of the state and use of words in its records have to be civilised and ideal, and therefore, such a practice is adopted so that no unparliamentary or uncivilised word goes on record, argued Patel.
Each state assembly, according to Patel, makes such a list debarring recording of certain words or expressions in their respective languages with a certain context.
So far, the Gujarat Assembly, has added 430 words or expressions to the list.
In a prologue to the book, which was published in 2013, the then Speaker Vajubhai Vala hailed parliamentary discipline of Gujarat and wrote, “On the occasion of publishing a collection of unparliamentary words of 52 years from 1960 to 2012, the Speakers of First to Twelfth assemblies had adjudged only 417 words as unparliamentary (13 more words were added to the collection subsequently), which is a great pride for Gujarat Assembly.” The book was last updated in March 2016, adding more words like “polampol (hogwash)” and “kalankit (tarnished)”.
Congress’s Tejashree Patel said, “I believe that if a person has been elected as an MLA then s/he has achieved a stature and such a person should not use unparliamentary words to put forward his/her presentation before the Assembly.”
She, however, alleged generally Speaker comes from the MLAs of a ruling party; and since BJP is in power in Gujarat for more than two decades and even the post of Deputy Speaker which should have gone to one of the MLAs of the Opposition is denied to it, sometimes the Speaker’s discretion in terming a particular word or expression as unparliamentary goes in favour of the ruling party to stifle the voice of the Opposition.
Chief whip of ruling BJP Pankaj Desai, however, said, “The Speaker has to maintain discipline in the House and therefore, he has to act strictly sometime. And in her (Tejashree Patel) case, the Speaker expressed regret which shows his large heart… And, I do not think the Speaker is biased. Even when a Congress MLA raises objection to any word or expression from a member of BJP, the Speaker has been ordering removal of such words from the record.”