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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Disrupting Parliament is a sin. Refusing to apologise for it, even more so

🔴 Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi writes: For these 'non-believers' in democracy, parliamentary participation is only an absurd pretence

Written by Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi |
Updated: December 5, 2021 7:55:16 am
The productivity of the Rajya Sabha during the 10-year UPA rule marked by pervasive corruption and misgovernance was over 77 per cent and it has steeply declined to below 70 per cent during the last seven years of Modi rule.

Concerted efforts are underway to erect a new democratic order in the country. These include persistently and wilfully disrupting the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha; snatching papers from ministers, tearing up parliamentary papers and throwing them in the air in the House; pulling out mikes, carrying placards; not allowing the Chair to speak; entering the well at the drop of a hat as part of a pre-planned strategy; showing utter disregard for the conventions and the Rules of Procedure of the House and to the Chair; manhandling security personnel and climbing on the table of the House and dancing to garner more visibility. The last is the ultimate manifestation of this dance of disruption. All this was on show during the last Monsoon Session under the perverse new democratic deal, even as the people of the country fervently celebrated democracy by overcoming all odds to vote regularly and sent their representatives to legislatures in the hope that they would make a difference to their lives.

The architecture of this new order was laid bare and justified by Binoy Viswam, a CPI Rajya Sabha member (‘Why we won’t apologise’, IE, December 3), causing dismay among firm believers in democracy. He categorically refused to demonstrate any remorse over the unruly conduct of those members who assert that this dance of disruption during the last session was in defence of the great values of democracy. Viswam allegedly snatched papers and folders from the table of the House and jostled the security personnel. He was rightly suspended for being among the sinners.

There is a pattern in this dance, being choreographed by reluctant late-converts to democracy and those who outraged the spirit of constitutional democracy during the Emergency, and who often claim the “divine right” to own and run the oldest party of our country. Together, they constitute the “non-believers” in democracy. For them, parliamentary participation is only an absurd pretence. Their words and deeds in the Rajya Sabha since 2014 and, in particular, during the last session, exposes this charade.

Viswam sought to fire his gun from the shoulders of the late Arun Jaitley who — in the context of the dark era of blatant corruption, policy paralysis, misuse of power by extra-constitutional authorities and even the denigration of the institution of the Prime Minister during the 10-year UPA era — had to defend certain inevitable acts of protest to force the then government to undertake corrective interventions. Do any of these elements apply to the Modi government since 2014?

Facts cannot lie. The productivity of the Rajya Sabha during the 10-year UPA rule marked by pervasive corruption and misgovernance was over 77 per cent and it has steeply declined to below 70 per cent during the last seven years of Modi rule. The difference is that the present Opposition could not substantiate any issue of graft in Parliament nor any other instance of omission and commission.

On the other hand, the Modi era is marked by a missionary pursuit of far-reaching initiatives like Jan Dhan Yojna, DBT, Ujjwala Yojna, Swachch Bharat, Housing Mission, Mudra Yojna, Startup and Innovation Revolution, Ayushman Bharat, Aatmanirbhar Bharat, and their traction with the people.

The truth is that the space for the Congress and the Left in the political landscape has been steadily and steeply declining since the formation of the Modi-led government in 2014. The steady rise of PM Modi as the first choice of the people and his rising international avowal has rattled the non-believers, who are fearing a loss of astitva.

Instead of cleansing their minds and striving to reconnect with the people, these non-believers have launched a “Hate Modi campaign”. Unable to enthuse the people with their plans and priorities, these non-believers have chosen the sacred Parliament to execute their mission of targeting Modi — without realising that it is bound to fail, as evidenced in several elections since 2014.

The disdain of Viswam and his ilk for democracy bodes ill for the country, which is keen to make up for the missed time and opportunities by the 100th year of our hard-fought Independence. To commit sacrilege against the temple of democracy is a sin and stoutly refusing to atone for it is an even bigger sin. Viswam and other non-believers don’t believe in atonement for undermining the religion of democracy. The people of the country, who swear by democracy, will take them to task for their dance of disruption in Parliament. Beware of them and their disruptive school of democracy.

This column first appeared in the print edition on December 4, 2021 under the title ‘Dance against democracy’. The writer is a Union Cabinet minister and Deputy Leader, Rajya Sabha. Views are personal.

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