DC Edit | This isnâ€™t the Parliament people of India deserve
If the Indian Parliament was a mobile app, based on the first nine days of performance and output of the Monsoon Session, it would not be hard to hazard a guess as to the likely ratings people would have given it.
For nine days, both the Houses witnessed a sustained bedlam, controversial exchanges, suspensions of Opposition members, unruly behaviour and protests, resulting in huge loss to a critical national resource — parliamentary time — besides creating avoidable opportunity costs.
What could not be debated in the two Houses of Parliament was made up for by both sides — the Treasury and Opposition — on social media and television channels. Maybe in anticipation, the Lok Sabha secretariat published a comprehensive list of unparliamentary words under Rule 382 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business, including among them — ashamed, crocodile tears, corrupt, drama, derogatory, dictatorial, eyewash, fudge, incompetent, disgrace, hypocrisy, misinformation, partisan, scandal and shame — most of which could have come handy otherwise during the session.
The biggest of these controversies was fuelled by the Opposition, when a senior Congress leader used the phrase “rashtrapatni” for President Droupadi Murmu, and later even justified it saying he was a Bengali, whose grip over Hindi was shaky. Was it a shame? But that would have been expunged from the House records.
The face-off between two senior leaders, Sonia Gandhi and Smriti Irani, exposed the hypocrisy of our current partisan polity where lies, misinformation, drama and crocodile tears would have been useful. No longer parliamentary expressions, alas!
The action of suspensions of Opposition members who were demanding a discussion on price rise, Agnipath scheme, GST on food items, among others, could no longer have been characterised by terms like jumlajeevi, dictatorial, deceived, eyewash. Nor could members have used words like fabrication, foolish, gag, ignore or humiliated in the context of a response.
In his epic, 1984, George Orwell, created NewSpeak, an autocratic template to control language to control thought to control people. The Parliament is where our representatives must speak up, debate, discuss, and pass new laws, amend or rescind archaic ones.
By ensuring the country and its citizens can only get face-offs and shouting matches, protests and walkouts, the entire polity of India is (unparliamentary word choice) robbing/stealing/deceiving citizens of the democracy they deserve. And have voted, and are paying for.
The Parliament is also the sacred monument of democracy where the chosen ones present to the nation, and the impressionable next generation, the best civil conduct and behaviour of the highest standards. Disappointment is a soft adjective for the appraisal here.
Cricketers could not have behaved like this on the field and gotten away with it. Movie stars can’t do it at award functions. No lawyer or accused or official could have behaved like this in court without drawing contempt. No businessman, employee, or professional would behave like this at a workplace without having to face serious consequences. No truant child would be allowed such behaviour at home, beyond a point.
Who are the elected leaders of India representing? Is this the democracy and Parliament we deserve? Without again blaming each other, can all the honourable members introspect and give us back our Parliament, our democracy and our lawmaking business as usual?