As I return to my computer after a week-long sojourn in isolation, I find Parliament still in logjam and turmoil - a terrific situation, to say the least. In their shameless attempts to browbeat opponents, leaders of almost all parties have lost sense of propriety and proportion, in as much as their arguments in justification of their respective stands constitute assault on statutory norms that enliven democracy and strengthen it. Shenanigans of political blackmail and reckless defenders of borrowed self-esteem appear to be destroying the splendor and fair play that are closely associated with the democratic system of governance and its lofty traditions
Now, hoping to break the logjam, Govt has offered intervention by PM Narendra Modi, clarifying its stance on the demands of the Opposition, mainly Congress, CP-M and JD(U), that are asking for nothing less than the heads of Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan and MP CMs Vasundhara Raje for 'Lalitgate' and Shivraj Chouhan for the Vyapam scam respectively. Then the question is: Will the PM's statement, that will most likely repeat the party's already stated position, make a difference for the Opposition? The ruling BJP sees no 'conflict of interests' in the conducts of these leaders and has ruled out their resignations. On the contrary, BJP leaders are vexed that an "honest and well-meaning Chouhan" has been unfairly dragged into the scam and argues that High Court had already exonerated the CM and now the CBI inquiry is on.
If, however, an all-party meet called by govt at noon today or the PM's possible intervention is able to break the stalemate, one wishes, that could have come earlier to save ugly situations that have ignominiously tarred the complexion of our august Parliament. From the time the Monsoon session began more than 10 days ago, no business has been transacted, even as numerous crucial Bills wait to be debated and passed to salvage the nation's economy. Reform measures, so essential for the country's continued growth and prosperity, too, are lying in limbo as the law-makers look hell-bent on disruptions, wordy duels and fistfights to assert their uncouth positions. Delay in the rollout of GST and passage of the Land Bill have already cost the nation dearly. Due to the obduracy of obstructionist MPs, the country has by now suffered roughly a whopping Rs 67crore loss in national exchequer. Are they ready to bear this loss, for the country is no more willing to pay for their ugly postures?
In the meantime, NDA govt is countering the Opposition by digging out scams in Congress-ruled states like Uttarakhand and Himachal pradesh and targeting Robert Vadra who remains a raw nerve for the Congress as it hurts most its leaders Sonia and Rahul gandhi. It's believed the Vadra issue has further forced the party into the boil, even at the risk of being isolated in both Houses of Parliament. TMC, BJD, AIADMK, SP and, to some extent, even BSP have apparently moved out of disruption politics. So, will the Congress leaders be eventually exhausted? What, if the govt finally decides to adjourn the monsoon session sine die right this week if the Congress does not allow it to function. The party is already on the edge.
What has made our law-makers so irresponsible, aberrant and unaccountable? Is it because there is no legal provision to recall corrupt, non-performing and arrogant legislators? They fight for every-possible facility and comfort for themselves and their families, want their pays and perks doubled and seek VVIP privileges and special subsidies on all govt accruals, unmindful of their voters' plights. At least 27 MPs overstaying in five-star luxury hotels, from treasury benches to the opposition ranks, have not cleared almost a crore worth of dues, waiting for the govt to stand this obligation. In short, nothing explains how and why do these people's representatives turn so callous, insensitive and unyielding.
Our former President, late APJ Abdul Kalam had once pleaded that on his death, no man-day should be lost as a mark of respect to his memory and exhorted people to work at least two hours extra everyday for a week. He had also proposed that the principle of "no work, no pay" should be made mandatory in law to do away with "senseless wasteful strikes and agitations in the country." I think it's the right time to apply this principle to people's representatives who, on the alibi of "protests", irresponsibly choose to hijack every now and then proceedings of legislatures. Why don't we learn from countries like UK where there is no history of House adjournments? Here, adjournments come almost rapaciously every day. Protests should not lead to disruptions and fistfights. In this, both treasury benches, as well as the Opposition, have their constructive roles to play. I personally feel the former has a greater responsibility to ensure smooth running of legislatures.
Already, proposal is in the air to stop pay and perks of all MPs who, as of now, look adamant on wasting the entire monsoon session. In reply to a newsperson's query, whether he agreed to forego his pay for the time Parliament is disrupted, a senior, extraordinarily vocal opposition MP curtly replies," Oh no, this is not possible. First, there is no policy in place and then there is also a question of financial problems MPs' families would suffer if they are not paid." This is just one sample of how our political think-tanks defend their guileful dispositions.
I think time has come not to pay for any periods of prolonged disruptions in either House of Parliament. There is no need even for an all-party meet to discuss this proposal which, in all fairness, needs immediate parliamentary approval. Those who oppose this will automatically stand exposed. Going to Parliament or state legislatures should not be taken as a fun or a place to show muscle or lung power. MPs and legislators in states must demonstrate sobriety and responsibly in their conducts in and outside legislatures. Else, democracy will face a big question mark and will be in peril. Let them not defile the system!