Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s decision to suspend Congress member Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury for a day was exemplary punishment for an MP who seemed not to care about the highest traditions of parliamentary democracy. It was bad enough to display placards in the House, but for a member to bang one on the Speaker’s podium as if he were a recalcitrant schoolboy demanded stringent action. Far from interceding and disciplining members from such coarse behaviour, party leaders sitting on the front row seemed disdainful of the way in which the Lok Sabha was being disrupted.
It is mostly politicians who are elected as representatives in the nation’s highest lawmaking body, but while they must be free to pursue whatever brand of politics or ideology they choose, they can’t be allowed to destroy the fabric of parliamentary procedures by disrespecting the Speaker, the custodian of multi-party democracy. There may be myriad issues that must be fought in different ways on the floor of the House, but nothing that brings disrepute to the legislature should be encouraged, nor can all kinds of misbehaviour be forgiven in the name of the Chair being strictly bipartisan. If top politicians from national parties are going to behave like this, what chance does the national legislature have of setting an example to the rest? Such tendencies, such as wayward behaviour, invariably followed by a superficial half-hearted apology after being named, should be nipped in the bud if the dignity of Parliament itself is to be preserved.