By Akshaya Mishra
Why grudge poor parliamentarians the little fun they have? The whole of this session they have had no work. And when they finally had the chance to come together, some got carried away by the occasion. A minor bout of pushing and shoving followed. That was it. There’s no point dwelling too much on the conduct of the two Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party members of Parliament. Members too are entitled to some entertainment at work.
The sense of shock over the incident is amazing indeed. There should have been words of appreciation at the graceful bout between two aging members. Our parliamentarians are known to shout at each other, tear papers, hurl expletives and rush to the well of the house at the smallest provocation. This time they went a notch ahead. There was apparently no objection from other members when the two got into their antics. From what is visible from the video grab, no one was trying to intervene and keep the duo apart.
The whole talk about the dignity of Parliament is nonsense. The proceedings within the house mirror the way our democracy functions outside. Trust me, it is as chaotic, as nonsensical and as interesting. When one party stops Parliament from functioning for two weeks we don’t notice the righteous outrage or those complaints of desecration of the dignity of institutions. When another tries to play games with parliamentary institutions the reaction is muted. When activists hurl abuses at the august house from the streets they are lustily cheered. There’s enough damage done to the dignity of the house already. A small wrestling bout between two members could not damage it more.
So let’s stop being hypocritical about the whole issue. Let’s welcome the future of parliamentary democracy in India with grace. In the days to come we might get to watch more intense physical combats with karate kicks flying and boxing skills at play. Some honorable members would lift their mundus to deliver the knock-out kick to their political rivals. You might see Salman Khanesque muscle act, ripping of the shirt and all, in response. Ah! democracy would be such a wonderful experience the future generations. One is already jealous of them.
However, all this entertainment would be possible only when Parliament functions, which one is sure will happen once in a while. Imagine a test of numbers during a trust vote being settled through fisticuffs. The members losing out will be declared unfit for voting. The situation will necessitate induction of young and healthy members in parties. The consequence is good for the democracy. Finally, there will be relief from the old faces and youthfulness in Parliament. The young in the country will have their due. The only problem, they will be from akhadas or karate classes, not educational institutions and professions requiring high intellect.
The makers of our Constitution, wherever they are, would be groaning at the state of our parliamentary institutions already. They would not be finding parliamentarians settling issues through trading of blows a great idea. But they lived in different times, simpler times. They thought nation-building was possible through civilized debates on the floor of the houses of Parliament. They would never have perceived that stalling of Parliament could be used as a political strategy. They thought that is how mature people and nations address issues. We live in different times. The situation is far more complex now. Nation-building is subservient to party-building under the everything goes philosophy of the new age.
Probably we all are responsible for the pathetic state of our Parliament. The two members who had a fight are symptoms of how far things have fallen. It’s time to sit back and introspect. Democracy is a serious business, not entertainment.