Friday, February 20, 2009

SAY SORRY TO THE NATION MR. SPEAKER

The all too familiar scene that has become synonymous with India's Parliament was enacted once again for the nth time on February 19, 2008. A number of MPs rushed to the well of the Lok Sabha with aggressive intent, shouted like there was no tomorrow and made sure that no business of the House could be conducted.

The whole nation, indeed the world, has been seeing such shocking scenes for years now with shame and disgust respectively. A lot of Indian politicians are by far the most ill behaved, irresponsible and uncivilized lot of Indians whose real place is in a seedy bar, not in the most hallowed institution of Indian democracy which is supposed to represent the will of the people of this country. Not only do they continue to keep shaming one billion Indians repeatedly, but seem to believe that such disgraceful acts reflect their power and status that makes them immune to all acceptable norms of behaviour and above the reach of the very laws that they themselves have made to regulate the behaviour of the citizens of this country.

Almost exactly a year ago, when similar scenes were witnessed, Somnath Chatterjee, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and a veteran Parliamentarian of many decades, was so driven to desperation that he was compelled to say that India's MPs were "working overtime to finish democracy". Yesterday, he went a few steps further and even got personal. "You are insulting the people of the country and wasting public money. You do not deserve even a single paisa. You are behaving in a condemnable manner", he told the MPs, adding "I hope that all of you are defeated in the election. I hope the people will give their verdict properly. You have to be taught a lesson."

This kind of behaviour that so agitated the Speaker yesterday is continuing unabated in the prime symbol of India's democracy only because there are many respected political leaders who continue to watch this nonsense ad nauseum and choose to do nothing about it. One does not expect better from the likes of Laloo Yadav, Mulayam Yadav etc. But what about LK Advani, Sonia Gandhi and even the young Rahul Gandhi?

LK Advani had sat quietly through the proceedings when BJP members were displaying wads of currency notes that they alleged had been paid by Amar Singh as bribes to their MPs to vote in favour of the Indo-US Nuclear Deal. Sonia Gandhi too had quietly watched members of her party behave most unacceptably on innumerable occasions when the Congress was in the opposition. Rahul Gandhi, in fact, had once even gone to the extent of saying that he was proud that every member of the House could freely express his views!

What about Somnath Chatterjee, to whom partial enlightenment seemed to have come at the fag end of his political career, much to the joy of most Indians? What did he do today, just a day after he said what the MPs deserved to hear? Today, believe it, he said sorry to them, saying that he had made those comments in "little frustration".

This is nothing less than an insult to the people of India Mr. Speaker. It is to the nation that you and all those who are meant to be carriers of the wishes and will of a billion plus people should be saying sorry to. By choosing to apologise to your fellow MPs instead, you have legitimised their unacceptable behaviour and given them just the encouragement they needed to behave even more badly in future. Now that you have cast your lot with them, the least you can do before you go is stop any further telecast, live or later, of proceedings in Parliament. We do not wish to see our nation being so disgraced by those we have chosen to lead it.