Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Parliament disruptions

Parliament is a forum for discussion and debate with dignity and decorum. There is no room for disruption. When any House of Parliament has to be adjourned due to disruption it is a disgrace.
Since many years disruptions and adjournments of Parliament have become a common occurrence. Sometimes whole sessions are washed out. As a result bills are passed without discussion. There was a time when marshals were used to throw out disrupting members but now it is rarely done.
BJP is the main culprit in disrupting Parliament. It began with a winter session wash out on the demand of resignation of telecom minister Sukh Ram. Some months later Sukh Ram quit Congress and formed a party. Elections followed. BJP formed government in Himachal Pradesh with the help of Sukh Ram. There was wash out of winter session in 2010 on 2G issue. On 31/1/2011 Arun Jaitley said disruption is a legitimate tactic in democracy. Now he is at the receiving end. BJP is at the receiving end.
Sometimes ruling party members also disrupt Parliament. We had the unusual spectacle of Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath disrupting Opposition Leader Sushma Swaraj’s speech. Many times Congress MPs from Telangana disrupted Parliament.
Presiding officers are guilty of not doing their duty and going by what the government wants or not suspending members who disrupt. Lot of time and money is wasted. At the end bills are passed without discussion. MPs get 2,000 rupees daily allowance when Parliament is in session. When the loss is calculated salary, allowances, subsidies and freebies of MPs should be taken into account.
Many MLAs follow the example of MPs and disrupt Legislative Assembly sessions. Marshals are rarely used. AAP has used marshals to throw out BJP MLAs who disrupt Delhi Assembly.
Congress has demanded the resignations of Sushma Swaraj, Vasundhara Raje Scindia and Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Otherwise they will not allow Parliament to function. Sushma Swaraj is External Affairs Minister and MPs have a right to demand her resignation. Vasundhara Raje Scindia and Shivraj Singh Chouhan are chief ministers and MPs have no right to demand their resignations. MLAs have the right to demand their resignations. Prime Minister and chief ministers may belong to the same party but that does not give the Prime Minister right to demand resignation of chief minister or dismiss chief minister. Congress is steeped in high command culture which began with Mohandas Gandhi. In 1939 Gandhi’s favourite Pattabhi Sitaramaih lost Congress presidential election to Subhash Chandra Bose. Gandhi made life difficult for Bose and Bose had to resign after four months. In 1946 provincial Congress Committees elected Vallabhbhai Patel as Congress President. Jivatram Bhagwandas Kripalani was second in the number of votes. Patel would have become Prime Minister when India became independent. Gandhi wanted Jawaharlal Nehru to become Congress President and later Prime Minister and Patel made way Nehru. In 1951 Nehru made Purushottam Das Tandon quit as Congress President. In 1959 Siddavanahalli Nijalingappa was pressured not to contest against Indira Gandhi for the post of Congress President. Over the years differences between BJP and Congress have narrowed down but high command culture in BJP is not as strong as in Congress. That is because RSS influence over BJP.
Marshals should be used to throw out MPs who disrupt Parliament. MPs who disrupt should be suspended for the rest of the session. BJP has majority in Lok Sabha. It can move resolutions for suspension of disrupting MPs. BJP does not have majority in Rajya Sabha. Suspension by resolution is difficult. Chairman or Deputy Chairman can suspend disrupting MPs. Speaker of Lok Sabha can suspend disrupting MPs.
There is demand by people to end Parliament canteen subsidy. Jay Panda has supported ending subsidy. Some MPs want to justify subsidy by saying journalists, officials, staff members, CRPF members eat at Parliament canteen. Many MPs don’t use the canteen when Parliament is in session and when Parliament is not in session few MPs use canteen. Such arguments are wrong. Parliament canteen is for MPs and others have no right to use that. It should be shut when Parliament is not in session. All who eat and drink at the canteen should pay full amount. Journalists, officials, staff members, CRPF members are paid salaries. They should not get subsidy. MPs should not have subsidy. Parliament canteen subsidy should end.

Updated: July 23, 2015 — 7:39 am

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