The BJP and the Congress may accuse each other of murder (of democracy) and fraud (on Parliament) at press conferences and in TV studios,but inside the two Houses,they must watch what they say. There are phrases and words,literally in thousands,both in English and other Indian languages,that are unparliamentary.
The presiding officers Speaker of the Lok Sabha and Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha who are tasked with keeping the bad words out of Parliaments records have for reference and help a bulky tome: Unparliamentary Expressions,published by the Lok Sabha Secretariat,whose 2004 edition runs into 900 pages.
The list contains several words and expressions that would probably be considered rude or offensive in most cultures; however,it also has stuff that is likely to be thought of as fairly harmless or innocuous.
Sometimes,the list appears to defy logic. Thus,while RJD supremo Lalu Yadavs rustic humour and wit had the entire House in splits,to describe him as a source of amusement would have been unparliamentary.
And while there are nearly 40 members from the communist parties in the two Houses,communist is unparliamentary,going by the book.
Outside Parliament,opposition leaders accused Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of scripting the drama that ended with the adjournment of Rajya Sabha at midnight on Thursday. But inside the House,they couldnt have referred to him as ringmaster without being pulled up. Obviously,referring to any member as an animal would have been unparliamentary.
The state legislatures are also guided mainly by the same book,which also draws heavily from unparliamentary words and phrases used in the Vidhan Sabhas and Vidhan Parishads of India.
In 1999,when the book was compiled,references were taken from debates and phrases declared unparliamentary by the pre-independence Central Legislative Assembly,the Constituent Assembly of India,the Provisional Parliament,the first to the tenth Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha,state legislatures and Commonwealth parliaments like that of the UK, said G C Malhotra,the former Lok Sabha secretary general who headed the editorial board of the 2004 edition.
Depending upon rulings of the presiding officers,new words and phrases continue to be added to the list at regular intervals, Malhotra added.
Among words and phrases that have been deemed unparliamentary are scumbag,shit,badmashi,bad (as in An MP is a bad man),and bandicoot,which is unparliamentary if any MP uses it for another,but which is okay if he uses it for himself.
If the presiding officer is a lady,no MP can address her as beloved chairperson. The government or another MP cannot be accused of bluffing. Bribe,blackmail,bribery,thief,thieves,dacoits,bucket of shit,damn,deceive,degrade,and darling,all are unparliamentary.
MPs or the presiding officers cant be accused of being double minded,having double standards,being of doubtful honesty,being downtrodden,indulging in double talk,being lazy,lousy,a nuisance or a loudmouth.
Lazy fools,liars,bloody liar,bloody Chair and bloody fellow are all unparliamentary.
An MP cant be called a racketeer,a radical extremist,a rat or a dirty little rat. No member or minister can be accused of having deliberately concealed,concocted,of being of a confused mind,or being confused and unintelligent.
A Raja or Suresh Kalmadi are in jail,but were they to be present in the House,they could not have been called corrupt,and their alleged acts could not have been referred to as corrupt practice. No member,irrespective of whether he has a criminal record,can be called a goonda or 420. The phrase prajatantra ka balaatkaar (rape of democracy) is a no-no.
The government,however incompetent,cant be called andhi-goongi,or one of Ali Baba aur 40 chor. An illiterate MP cant be called angootha chhaap,and it is unparliamentary to suggest that a member should be sent to the ajayabghar (museum).