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Devaluation of Parliamentary Democracy

New Delhi, Sat, 21 Feb 2009 Deepak Kumar Mohanty

Lok Sabha Speaker, Somnath Chatterjee, may have taken his words back in which he scolded MPs for their unruly behaviour, but the frequent disruption of Parliament by members of various parties on different issues instead of any quality discussion for public concern proves the devaluation of the dignified constitutional institution by our so-called lawmakers, which has now become a part of Indian democracy.

The Speaker on Thursday (Feb 19) criticised Members of Parliament for creating hullabaloo, saying they didn’t deserve even a paisa of public money. ‘I hope all of you who don’t want this House to function should be defeated in the election. You have to be taught a lesson; people will give a fit verdict,’ Chatterjee had stated. His outburst found justified by many concerned citizens.

In a democracy, the establishment and institutionalisation of Parliament is the key to hold the government accountable and make the nation function. However, over the years, the criminalisation of politics as more and more goons becoming elected representatives, and bitter political controversies are reflections of the defacement of our parliamentary authority.

Bribery and corruption, which was only an outside affair, entered this temple of democracy last year on July 22 during the Trust Vote, when three BJP MPs waved one crore currency notes inside the House alleging some Congress and Samajwadi Party MPs for offering huge sums to save the Congress-led UPA government during the trust vote.

Furthermore, the falling standard of our political class can also be judged with the quality of discussion and scanty attendance. Many of our Parliamentarians preferred to stay at home or go on holidays when serious business sessions were on table. Many important bills went passed without any formal discussions and some like the ‘women reservation bill’ remain at its prologue stage in the absence of political will.

For instance, there were hardly 20 MPs present in the House on Friday (Feb 20) when the discussion of government’s interim budget for 2009-10 was on the table. As per a 2008 government report – every minute of parliamentary proceedings costs Rs. 34,500 and amid such disruption of House one can imagine how much money go waste from the public account. Speaker is bound to adjourn the House due to lack of quorum and Chatterjee’s rage is well justified.

The 15th Lok Sabha elections is due in April-May this year and every single voter should take account of their representatives, as at the end of the day it is us who choose the individual or party to govern the nation. If we elect someone with criminal charges without any standing for public cause, we deserve such distracting session in Parliament devoid of any spirit to strengthen parliamentary democracy.

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