Disruption shame in House

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By OUR BUREAU in Delhi
  • Published 22.10.08

New Delhi, Oct. 22: On a day India’s space scientists pulled off the unmanned mission to the moon, its MPs showed up in stark contrast as they replayed the all too familiar disruption drill in Parliament.

“The country is proud of our scientists, our sportspersons, but the entire country is ashamed of our parliamentarians,” an angry Somnath Chatterjee said after slogan-shouting MPs repeatedly rushed to the well of the Lok Sabha, forcing numerous adjournments.

“We are going to be known as the most unruly people in the world,” he fumed as Rashtriya Janata Dal MPs ranted against Raj Thackeray and the CPM demanded more foodgrain for Kerala.

Repeatedly chiding the MPs for what he termed their “most despicable and irresponsible behaviour”, Chatterjee appealed: “Please save the country, save Parliament.”

Around the time that Chatterjee’s appeals were falling on deaf ears, similarly unruly scenes were being played out in the Rajya Sabha, too.

BJP MP Rudra Narayan Pani almost came to blows with Congress colleague Shantaram Naik over raising the Orissa church attacks in the upper House.

While Naik insisted the issue should be discussed, Pani was bent on blocking it. Had fellow BJP members not intervened, the House might well have witnessed an ugly exchange of blows.

The squabbling MPs could not care less that Rajya Sabha deputy chairman K. Rahman Khan was up on his feet. According to parliamentary practice, no member can remain standing if the person in the Chair rises from his seat.

“What is happening is shameful and totally unacceptable. I have been in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha for many terms, but never have I broken rules or shouted,” said H.D. Deve Gowda, the former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader.

“Why do they stand up so much?” asked Najma Heptullah, once the chairperson of the Rajya Sabha.

She suggested the disregard for rules in Parliament was a reflection of what was happening across the country. “Today we have security in Parliament only because of increasing terror attacks.”

Heptullah said noisy scenes were not uncommon in the seventies when Piloo Modi and Raj Narain were MPs, but disruptive behaviour had never sunk to such levels.

“No one broke the rules then,” said Rajya Sabha veteran Shanta Vasisht.

Vasisht, who was MP when Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi were Prime Ministers, said a comparison was not possible between the behaviour of MPs then and now.

The deteriorating standards of parliamentary conduct were resulting in a colossal waste of public money and time, Vasisht said.