New Delhi: Daily
disruptions and ruckus inside parliament - that Vice President Hamid Ansari said has been described as "competitive hooliganism"
- have become routine and both the government and opposition blame
each other for it, but experts say it is a negation of democracy
and probably a way to get media coverage.
"The way parliament has been functioning, it is a total negation
of democracy," Jagdeep Chhokar, a retired IIM-Ahmedabad professor
and founder-member of the National Election Watch & Association
for Democratic Reforms, told IANS.
"Democracy is being negated by the people citizens have elected
and this is the anti-thesis of democracy," he said.
In 2012, parliament proceedings were marred by disruptions over a
wide range of issues, notably the CAG report on coal allocation
and FDI in retail, says data complied by thinktank PRS Legislative
Only 61 percent of available time was used for parliamentary work
in the Lok Sabha and 66 percent in the Rajya Sabha. The government
had listed 94 bills for consideration and passing (some
repeatedly) across the three sessions of parliament. By the end of
the winter session, only 22 bills were passed.
More than half-way through the 15th Lok Sabha, productive time is
at 70 percent - significantly lower than the previous Lok Sabha.
The first half of the budget session this year was also marred by
protests over issues like the situation of Sri Lankan Tamils, and
comments of Congress Minister Beni Prasad Verma against Samajwadi
Party Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
The disruptions resulted in lesser time for transacting business
and the Rajya Sabha passed the appropriation bill, which is a
finance bill, without a debate.
Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman, in an all party meeting
Sunday, even suggested amending the rules to suspend members who
display unruly behaviour in the houses. However, his suggestions
were not accepted by political parties.
"When the Rajya Sabha chairman made the suggestion why didn't
political parties agree," Chhokar wondered.
Praveen Rai, academic secretary at the Centre for the Study of
Developing Societies, said disruptions were aimed at grabbing
media attention. "Disruptions are an easy way to get media
coverage. Our parliamentarians don't want to go to the in-depth of
issues, they are not very interested in debating legislation.
Disruptions come as an easy way to get attention," he said.
Rajya Sabha chairperson Ansari had also suggested that live
telecast of the question hour should be stopped to avoid its
The average Indian is not taking all this kindly.
Rajni Shastri, a BA second year student of Delhi University, says
it's "open loot of public money".
"What can it be called but an open loot of public money? They
(MPs) go there and
do nothing," she said.
A government employee working with the health ministry, who did
not want to be named, said "It is a very sad reflection on the way
our polity is being shaped up. This is the time when our democracy
is maturing, and this is what we find. Crony capitalism, and
corruption is what is reflected in parliament."
An e-mail message doing the rounds calls for stopping the pension
of MPs and not allowing them to raise their salaries.
"Parliamentarians should purchase their own retirement plans, just
as all Indians do... Parliamentarians should no longer vote
themselves a pay raise. Their pay should be linked to the CPI
(consumer price index) or 3 percent, whichever is lower," reads
the e-mail message, which is being widely circulated.
"Serving in parliament is an honour, not a career. The Founding
Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their
term(s), then go home and back to work," the e-mail adds.
Rai said that electoral reforms are needed to check this
situation. "Electoral reforms are needed, and we need to choose
better candidates if we want this situation to change," he said.