Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday said that politicians must remember that “they are rivals and not enemies”, and reaffirm people’s confidence in them and in the parliamentary system.
He was speaking at a gathering to celebrate the best performing parliamentarians, organised by Lokmat, but the event became a platform where some of India’s seniormost legislators from across parties lamented the declining standards of discussions in Indian politics, and debates being replaced by noise and fights in Parliament.
Naidu also rued the decline, saying the “way we run our polity should be assuring the people about their future and that of the country”. As parliamentarians, he said, “every word you utter, every decision you make, every vote you cast, resonates deeply within the hearts of your people who have great expectations from you”.
He continued, “It is therefore important to reassure them, to reaffirm their confidence in you as well as the parliamentary system.” Politicians must be guided by a certain degree of “national consensus over issues of broader concern and the political debates conducted on those lines”.
Remembering his days as a young legislator, Farooq Abdullah said that Ram Manohar Lohia could take jibes at Jawaharlal Nehru when the latter was Prime Minister, and he would sit quietly listening to the accusations. “Now we only see fighting” in the house, he said.
Agreeing with the sentiment, senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said, “I would like to say that the face of Parliament has changed a lot. It has changed in its working, and it has changed in behaviour, but the most change has been in the dialogue and language used. It is a matter of a bit of a concern. The dignity of parliamentary language, especially of those occupying Constitutional positions, reflects the dignity of the House and the democracy.”
Union Minister for Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar said that all parties must create an atmosphere to allow debate in the House for the situation to improve. Because of television, he said, “People feel your constituency will think you are working only if you go to the well of the House. This is not true. Good work and good discussions will also get you noticed.”
Adding to this, Naidu later said that “if you go to the well of the House you are highlighted”, but members don’t get noticed by the media when they come prepared with research on a particular topic. He asked the media to “report constructive contributions”.
Another senior legislator, Sharad Pawar, said that the House should be allowed to function and there should be discussions.
The Lokmat media group felicitated Joshi and Pawar with lifetime achievement awards for the lower and upper house of Parliament, respectively. For Lok Sabha, Nishikant Dubey and Rama Devi won the best parliamentarian and best woman parliamentarian awards, while for Rajya Sabha Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad and Kanimozhi won in the same categories. Chhaya Verma, member of Rajya Sabha from Chhattisgarh, won the award for best debut woman parliamentarian. This was the second edition of the awards given out by the Maharashtra-based Lokmat group.