Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Anarchy in Parliament

For decades MPs have disrupted Parliament. Anarchy in Parliament is a regular feature. Sessions get washed out. Presiding officers i.e., Speaker of Lok Sabha and Chairman of Rajya Sabha have failed in their duties. MPs who should be suspended are allowed to disrupt houses. Sometimes foreign delegates are present to witness how Indian Parliament functions and they go back by witnessing anarchy.
On 13/2/2014 Vijayawada MP Lagadapati Rajagopal sprayed pepper in Lok Sabha. The house was adjourned. Some MPs had to be taken to hospital. What next? An MP coming with AK-47 and shooting fellow MPs and walking out? Three decades back in Inquilab, Amitabh Bachchan played a chief minister who shoots all his ministers.
Besides Rajagopal there were other MPs who engaged in vandalism in Lok Sabha. Later Speaker Meira Kumar under rule 374A suspended 16 MPs for next five consecutive sittings. The suspended MPs were Anantha Venkatarammi Reddy, A. Sai Pratap, Gutha Sukehnder Reddy, K. G. Reddy, Lagadapati Rajagopal, R. Sambasiva Rao, M. Sreenivasulu Reddy, Sabbam Hari, V. Aruna Kumar of Congress; K. Narayana Rao, Modugula Venugopala Reddy, Nimmala Kristappa, Nirmalli Sivaprasad of TDP; and M. Rajamohan Reddy, S. P. Y. Reddy, Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy of YSR Congress.
Arun Jaitley said “What has happened in Parliament has brought a bad name to Indian democracy.” Meira Kumar said “This has shamed us. Our parliamentary democracy is admired throughout the world.” Sushma Swaraj said “Whatever happened, it has crossed all limits.”
Indian democracy had a bad name for a long time. If there was admiration it was by ignorant people. Limits are crossed every time there is adjournment due to disruption.
L. Rajagopal committed a crime by injuring others. FIR must be registered against him. Those who damaged Lok Sabha property should be asked to pay for damage.
Purno Albert Sangma once said when he was Speaker he never adjourned the house. Meira Kumar used rule 374A to suspend MPs. That means that rule could have been used by her and other Speakers before and they did not use it. They are guilty.
Leaders have lost moral authority by asking party members to disrupt. Opposition members disrupting is bad. Ruling members disrupting is worse. Once when Sushma Swaraj spoke Sonia Gandhi told her party members not to allow her to speak. Congress members stood up and shouted. Among them was Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath whose responsibility was it to see Parliament functions without disruptions.
BJP stand is ambivalent. They say they want the house to function but do not want marshals. BJP cannot have it both ways.
What did Pranab Mukherjee do when he was leader of the house to put an end to anarchy in Lok Sabha? What has he done as President to end anarchy in Parliament? He has taken oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. Under Article 86 did he address or send messages to both Houses of Parliament not to disrupt proceedings and throw out any member who disrupts? He did not. He can and he should.

House for Zohra Sehgal

The Indian Express on 10/2/2014 reported – The government does not have a house for Zohra Sehgal. Headlines Today reported her case and asked “Is this how we treat our legends?” As per reports Zohra Sehgal is 101 years old, lives in a second floor house with her daughter Kiran. As per Kiran “She can hardly hear or see. She cries in pain whenever she has to be taken to the dentist or for some work outside the house in a wheelchair. It’s difficult for her to even take the six steps to the area where she can sit in the sun.”

Zohra Sehgal had applied to the Ministry of Culture for ground floor government accommodation. The ministry did not give her house in artiste quota as she did not meet the criteria of being in age limit of 40-60 years, earn less than Rs.20,000/- p.m. and should not have property in the National Capital Region. Ministry of Culture forwarded her application to Ministry of Urban Development which did not allot her house.

It is not for the government to provide houses for present or former artistes and journalists. Sometime back there was a report that government has 20 bungalows for new journalists who come to Delhi which are occupied by senior journalists who refuse to vacate them. People who acted in films got paid for their work. Being a legend is not a favour to others and in India many people are considered legends. In a democracy all are equal. In India many people do not have a house. Zohra Sehgal has a house. Even if she had a ground floor house she would have needed someone to take her out of house.

Why is there no RTI application about artistes and journalists who live in government houses? The names of such artistes and journalists should be made public.

If The Indian Express feels so bad for Zohra Sehgal it should provide a ground floor house to Zohra Sehgal. If Headlines Today feels so bad for Zohra Sehgal it should provide a ground floor house to Zohra Sehgal. It is easy to be charitable at taxpayers’ expense.

Let Telangana be

When Arvind Kejriwal sat on a dharna some Congress members said he was creating anarchy. What they have to say about chief minister of Andhra Pradesh N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, tourism minister of India Chiranjeevi, HRD minister of India Pallam Raju, and many ministers and MPs sitting on dharna in Delhi? What about disruption caused by MPs in Parliament? What about bandhs enforced in Andhra Pradesh? Telugu politicians have come to blows outside Andhra Pradesh Bhavan. Battle for and against Telangana is fought in Delhi.
Congress had promised formation of Telangana in its manifesto. Those who oppose it knew it. They did not object it then. Some Telangana members like Keshava Rao waited for a long time for Congress to fulfil its promise and left it when they lost hope.
There would not have been Andhra Pradesh if it had not been separated from Madras in 1953. Telangana was added to Andhra Pradesh in 1956. Since then people of Telangana had wanted separation. Sometimes the movement was strong. Sometimes it was dormant. Since 2009 the movement has been unrelenting.
MPs who disrupt Parliament should be suspended. Congress together with its allies has majority in Lok Sabha and does not need BJP support to suspend disrupting MPs.
As one American diplomat wrote in a message Sonia Gandhi never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. She had many opportunities to act decisively once the announcement for formation of Telangana was made in December 2009 and opposition erupted. Resignations of Andhra MLAs who resigned in protest should have been accepted. Instead the decision to form Telangana was put on hold. When CWC decided in favour of Telangana, resignations of union ministers should have been accepted. That did not happen. The problem got worse.
The solution is to form Telangana, declare President’s Rule in Andhra Pradesh, suspend MPs who disrupt Parliament, and accept resignations of ministers. Kurnool or Vishakhapatnam or Vijayawada can be capital of Andhra Pradesh.

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