It’s time MPs are made to take an oath that debars them from creating ruckus in the House, drowning out speeches and debates, overwhelming the audio system. It’s also time they are given compulsory training (refresher courses for the old hands) on rules of procedure and norms of decency.
A day ago, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had to literally outshout the sloganeers to be heard in the debate on the motion of thanks to the president’s speech. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, who has earlier shown alacrity in suspending delinquent opposition MPs for similar offences, did not lift a finger against the errant Andhra Pradesh MPs, for reasons best known to her. Obviously emboldened, they repeated their act, nearly drowning out the PM’s reply to the debate.
Not that Kharge or Modi lack lung power. Both have come up the hard way, and have enough spunk to hold their own in such situations. But that such situations should arise is unpardonable. Members are elected to represent their people and constituencies, legislate, discuss, debate and hold the government of the day accountable. Parliament is not an arena for street politics.
Walkouts are the maximum a House can allow by way of protest; or points of order for factual corrections. But disruptions now routinely overtake even crucial discussions, thanks to the visual media. If a budget debate or a vital bill is held up, it’s an unconscionable dereliction of basic duty.
Our Andhra MPs should have learnt their lesson from the last Lok Sabha—their dharnas, incessant slogans and placards—could not stop the bifurcation of the state. Neither will the present tactics get them funds to rebuild the state.
For the Congress to do a tit-for-tat (because their leader’s speech was drowned out) was juvenile and unbecoming of a party with a long history. Perhaps it’s a reflection of the times we live in: MPs are no longer sure of the impact that a sharp, witty intervention may have. And only pandemonium is audible.