Political Gup-Shup: Parliamentary shenanigans

Although the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament began on a promising note, with members from all political parties coming together to reaffirm their commitment to the Constitution, relations between the Modi government and the Congress soon hit an all-time low after the Delhi high court ruled that Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi will have to make a personal appearance in a trial court in the ongoing National Herald case. Having decided to hold up proceedings in the Rajya Sabha, protesting Congress members have come with creative ways of shouting down the ministers who are fielded to argue with them. Whenever minister for communications and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad gets up to counter the principal Opposition party’s charges, Congress members chant, “Call Drop …call drop”. When HRD minister Smriti Irani attempts to take on the Congress, she has to contend with shouts of, “Farji degree… fake degree”. And when minister of parliamentary affairs M. Venkaiah Naidu responds to their charges, Congress members drown his voice out with shouts of “unparliamentary minister”. Congress members confess that after a decade in power they had forgotten how to conduct themselves as an Opposition party, but, apparently, they seem to have learnt fast.

The Congress’ floor strategy to derail parliamentary proceedings is being used as an opportunity by its MPs to demonstrate their loyalty to the Gandhis. There is stiff competition to come up with innovative slogans and outshout each other. The handful of members who don’t join their colleagues have been singled out and even came in for special mention during the party’s internal meetings. Several MPs pointed out to Mr Gandhi that while they were shouting themselves hoarse, there were many others who only pretended to join in by waving their arms around and moving their lips like film stars.

Many members who had kept away from their protesting colleagues, the most notable among them being Rajeev Shukla, promptly joined in the next day. Mr Shukla was evidently in a fix. Known for his network of friends across the political spectrum, the Congress MP was obviously reluctant to protest because he did not want to alienate his buddies in the BJP, particularly Arun Jaitley who is like family to him and Ravi Shankar Pra-sad, his brother-in-law. On the other hand, he risked being blackballed by the Congress leadership if he was seen to be soft on the BJP. A reluctant Shukla eventually joined the protests.

With the Rajya Sabha being adjourned every day without transacting any business, last week an anxious minister of minority affairs Najma Heptulla was overheard bemoaning to Mrs Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel about how Parliament was not functioning. She went on to recall how she dealt with errant members when she was the Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson more than a decade ago. Mr Patel responded in his inimitable style, advising her that this was the right time for her to speak to Prime Minister Naren-dra Modi and make a case for her elevation as vice-president when the post falls vacant after two years. “Then you can run the House according to your wishes,” he added. Mr Patel’s reply was a gentle reminder to Ms Heptulla about how she ended her association with the Congress when the party did not field her for the vice-president’s post. But Ms Heptulla may have the last laugh, since her name is apparently doing the rounds for the President’s post.

Prime Minister Na-rendra Modi’s obse-ssion with clicking selfies has created problems for his Cabinet colleagues. BJP ministers complain that with this fad catching on, they cannot go to any public function without being accosted by cellphone-wielding men and women who sidle up to them and crane their faces next to theirs for a quick selfie. It is much worse for women as they are mobbed by men who insist on standing in close proximity to be able to get a good photo. What is more disturbing is that they have no clue as to the identity of the person taking the selfie and how the photo may be used or misused by him. A senior BJP minister even went as far as confessing that Mr Modi was the cause of their troubles. Wonder what the Prime Minister has to say to that.

The writer is a Delhi-based journalist

Download the all new Deccan Chronicle app for Android and iOS to stay up-to-date with latest headlines and news stories in politics, entertainment, sports, technology, business and much more from India and around the world.

( Source : anita katyal )
Next Story