Columns | Game, Seth And Match
Bring Back Dignity Please
How to deal with badly behaving MPs
17 Feb, 2023
EVERY TIME INDIA’S Parliament is in session, we witness new lows. Gone are the days of just rude interruptions and heckling: today, India is seeing the advent of abuse entering Parliament’s lexicon and no matter what the provocation, decency and dignity have taken a walk. And every political party is guilty of this. It sometimes makes you wonder if India is truly a democracy. Today, its Parliament is worse than a wrestling ring. This never used to be the case.
At one time, our Parliament was known for its level of both debate and wit, which has sadly been replaced by debasement and abuse, and that, too, when all of its proceedings are televised. The question that these MPs need to ask themselves is what kind of role models they have become. Politicians are in any case a disgraced lot: almost always discussed in the most disparaging terms and when you add insult to injury, you get a concoction that few will be able to dispel for a long time to come. I have never understood the reason for this vitriol which only seems to be increasing with every passing day. And this is after the kind of perks that these people get, all at the exchequer’s expense. When you see how they behave and the kind of time that is lost with adjournments and such, you often wonder if we need Parliament at all. What value does this kind of parliamentary democracy offer if it never seems to work? When it does work, it’s about casting aspersions on each other rather than doing things for the nation.
I believe the time has come for our MPs to sit together and figure a way out of this marsh of hatred. The morass that our parliamentary democracy is sinking into should worry everyone: across the aisle. It is no longer fun to watch elected (and nominated) representatives behave like hoodlums: if this is how they have been brought up, then they should either stay home or not stand for elections. But this level of bad behaviour just has to stop. You cannot have lawmakers behave in this lumpen manner, and yet be respected. If they can stoop to the level of personal slander, then don’t be surprised if their behaviour gets called out (perhaps, in equally distasteful ways) by the common man. We are not paying these people to behave like rogues: they are paid to get a job done, and that job is to make sure the nation (and not their personal agendas) come first. If this basic understanding escapes them, then it’s best they step aside. We cannot have a situation where some of these lumpen elements believe that the nation loves their errant ways. They need to know they are in Parliament and not in the Bigg Boss House.
At one time, our parliament was known for its level of debate and wit, which has sadly been replaced by debasement and abuse, and that, too, when all of its proceedings are televised. The question that these MPs need to ask themselves is what kind of role models they have become
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Equally responsible are the respective speakers of both Houses of Parliament: they are there to ensure that the business of the House is conducted in a dignified manner without any partisanship. Just an indulgent smile or a harsh aside won’t do. The time to crack the whip has arrived. I would urge the speakers to start expelling errant MPs and also withdraw their perks and privileges. They cannot be staying in fancy accommodation at our expense and ridiculing the whole process of parliamentary democracy. If they lack the ability to discuss issues in a civil manner, then quite honestly, they are not needed. If we required standup comics, we can find them elsewhere.
Tokenism won’t work with many repeat offenders: you need to make examples of these louts that would deter this abominable behaviour in future. And the sooner we do it, the better off we will be. On the one hand, we talk about Amrit Kaal and on the other, you have people’s representatives spewing venom: they just can’t co-exist.
These MPs need to understand one introductory life lesson: with power, come both accountability and responsibility. These aren’t the playthings of a vitiated mind. Only of an evolved one.
About The Author
Suhel Seth is Managing Partner of Counselage India and can be reached at email@example.com
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