Under attack from a section of civil society in recent times,both the Houses of Parliament today resolved to uphold and maintain its dignity,sanctity and supremacy and enhance the accountability of the government towards the people,even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought candid and serious introspection on the daily routine of disruptions of parliamentary proceedings which leads to frustration and disillusionment among people.
The day-long special session of the two Houses to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the first sitting of Parliament saw MPs from across the political spectrum asserting its supremacy.
The daily routine of disruptions,adjournments and shouting in the House is leading many outside to question the efficacy of this institution and its place in public affairs. If we are to restore the prestige of this institution,each and every one of us must lead by example. We need to resolve that the Rules of Procedure and conduct that we have collectively evolved would be honoured in letter and spirit. Unless we can find some way to resolve the growing impasse in the functioning of Parliament,public disenchantment will only grow. The leaders of parties should sit together to find ways to raise issues,small or big,and air differences in a manner that does not stall Parliament at every occasion, said the PM.
Senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh and NCP chief Sharad Pawar recalled the 1997 resolution of the House on the inviolability of the Question Hour and the reaffirmation of the commitment to conform with the entire regime of rules and procedures. Pawar made an indirect reference to Emergency,saying,whenever there was an attempt to divert from democracy,people of the country taught a lesson.
In what appeared to be a veiled message to the Congress as also other parties who see governance only through the prism of populism and welfarism,the PM stressed the need to reflect on how affairs of the state should be conducted. Democracy is based on the notion of a popular mandate,but it should not be construed as a populist mandate. I believe that a mature democracy is one that balances the daily pressures of politics against the long-term needs of development. These conflicting demands,between the here and now of electoral politics,and the requirements of the long run that development imposes,can be and must be balanced, he said.
Noting that the journey of the Indian Parliament has not always been smooth or without challenge,UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi said: The integrity and independence of Parliament must be preserved and protected at all cost,with no room for compromise. Our conduct must rise to the highest ethical standards that were followed and demanded by the founding fathers of our nation… If there is one thread running through these past six decades,it is that peoples power is felt constantly at the highest levels of governance.
In the Rajya Sabha,CPM MP Sitaram Yechury said the recent experience of judicial activism has blurred the delineation between the three organs of democracy. The judiciary interprets the law. But,I think,respectfully,we have to say that it cannot make laws; the legislature alone can do that. The constitutional mandate is for a judicial review,not for judicial activism, he said.
The Anna Hazare-led civil societys campaign came under attack in both Houses of Parliament. Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said that once the norms of accountability improve,cynicism with regard to Parliament and parliamentary functions will have to be brought to an end.
Cynicism leads to anger,anger can lead to crowd on roads. But it is Parliament which is accountable. Mobs are never accountable. Therefore,there is no substitute for parliamentary institutions and a popular faith as far as its functioning is concerned, said Jaitley.
Citing a story from the Mahabharata about how 11 Kauravas and five Pandavas became 105 when it came to an external attack,Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj sought to drive home the point that there is no disunity between the Opposition and Treasury Benches in fighting an attack on the institution of Parliament.
In the name of Lokpal,a move is on to destroy the country and Parliament,which is the law-making body. They are using the language of gheraoing the MPs…they are calling us thieves and dacoits, said RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav adding that there is a deep-rooted conspiracy to devalue and defame Parliament.
AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi said fringe elements cannot be allowed to override the supremacy of Parliament.