Sunday, August 14, 2022

Gag on law makers

India’s democracy has always been chaotic, birthed as it was since the independence movement during the colonial rule, was highlighted by -satyagrahas, bandhs, hartals, gheroas etc even if some may mean the same thing. Even in parliament, democracy is as chaotic as the manner in which law makers, especially when in opposition, are equally guilty of filibuster, protesting around the well of the house or shouting slogans. These are the hallmarks of freedom of speech and action which all political parties, whether BJP while in opposition or the present non-BJP opposition parties have indulged. The sanctum sanctorum of people’s highest forum-parliament- has been the scene of every form of protest even spending nights on dharna. All ruling parties have received their fair share of disruptions and agitations from opposition parties within and outside parliament. However, when the Lok Sabha secretariat on issued a new booklet on July 14, where some commonly used words including ‘betrayed’, ‘corrupt’, ‘drama’, ‘hypocrisy’ and abused, along with terms such as ‘jumlajeevi’, ‘baal buddhi’, ‘Covid spreader’ and ‘Snoopgate’ will be considered unparliamentary from now on in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, it literally took everyone by surprise. The entire opposition reacted with outrage at what they saw was a pretext to gag the opposition voices. After the outrage over the issue, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla had stepped in and made it clear that no word has been banned from use in Parliament but will be expunged on a contextual basis. This list was issued just four days ahead of the Monsoon session of Parliament on July 18. Opposition members have in the past demonstrated inside Parliament complex and have also staged protests and fasts outside Mahatma Gandhi’s statue inside the complex. A day after the Lok Sabha Secretariat’s booklet on unparliamentary words triggered furore, the Parliament has now banned demonstrations and dharnas within the Parliament premises. “Members cannot use the precincts of the Parliament House for any Demonstration, Dharna, Strike, Fast, or for the purpose of performing any religious ceremony (sic),” the bulletin, issued on July 14 read.In a Parliamentary bulletin, PC Mody, Secretary General said that the members cannot use the Parliament House for performing any religious ceremony. Mahua Moitra MP of the TMC characteristically tweeted : “By the way honourable MP Varanasi performed a religious ceremony on top of new Parliament building just four days ago.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 11, unveiled the national emblem — made of “high-purity bronze” with a height of 6.5 metre and weighing 9,500 kilogram — on the top of the New Parliament Building after a ‘puja’, actions that attracted strong reactions from several opposition leaders. Though overwhelmed by sheer numbers of the ruling BJP and its alliance partners, the opposition has been doughty , determined and relentless in attacking the government on several issues of national importance and demanded discussions in the house. However, for whatever reasons, the ruling BJP-led NDA has fought shy of facing a combative opposition. On many occasions, the opposition members were not given the opportunity to speak. Their demand to refer contentious bills to the parliamentary committees were turned down. Bills were passed without discussions through brute majority while bypassed parliament and enacted through ordinances. By banning verbal attacks and protests, the government appears to be depriving the opposition of the articulating the way Indian politics has been practised.

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