Editorial: Different Yardsticks

…will political parties tolerate misbehaviour within organisation? Why these two different yardsticks for the House and the party? Doesn’t it mean that political parties treat organization within a democracy better than they do the supreme democratic institution, that is to say, they consider their party more important than the parliament?…

Physical attacks and counter-attacks are run-out-of-the-mill events in parliament and state legislatures, nothing to be surprised about anymore except having a shame within for our netas’ ways of comporting themselves. So when MNS MLA Ram Kadam slapped his companion from Samajwadi Party Abu Azam for not taking oath of office in Marathi, what shocked us was neither manhandling of a legislature nor linguistic ground of the issue but the occasion on which the event occurred – swearing-in. Though it’s apparently not arguable that a behavior like this merits less criticism on other occasions, it points to the extreme degradation that has come into the functioning of parliament and assemblies. It was not a debate nor question hour nor the moment of passing of a bill where anger could have been roused by some heated arguments, it was a calm constitutional process of oath taking which cannot be expected to fan anybody’s flame out of a blue to a level that it results in slapping. The incident, thus, was cold-blooded, purely political, if put simply. Well, this latest event of national shame calls for a debate for dealing with the issue for once and all. Ruckus, throwing shoes and mikes, violently approaching a fellow and finally slapping him in the face is not the kind of picture an average Indian would like the next generation or the world to have of his country’s democratic institutions. These incidences intended merely to score political points have been heading for maligning sound parliamentary processes for long, thinkers have shown their concerns and political parties have regretted but nothing have come out of this so far to put an old tradition of expressing oneself and tolerating rival’s stand for betterment of democracy. Some people previously suggested telecast of proceedings when scenes get objectionable and shameful should be stopped instantly. This is no solution. Not showing bad picture inside a democratic institute doesn’t set a wrong right.

It seems very absurd that political parties, which don’t generally tolerate any deviation on party line on an issue by any of its members and come out with tough disciplinary action if anybody does so and which have never let discipline deteriorate to any intolerable extent within organization, have silently allowed it to flourish in the House. Why these two different yardsticks? Doesn’t it mean that they treat organization within a democracy better than they do the supreme democratic institution, that is to say, they consider their party more important than the parliament? Won’t they treat manhandling or slapping in an organizational conference or meeting as a shame to their organization? If yes, why do they not treat unparliamentarily behaviour in the House as shame? It’s time when leadership of sensible political parties should realize that tough regulations beyond few-days suspension for unparliamentarily behaviour are laid down and strictly followed. Depending upon the degree of crime, erring MPs or MLAs should be disqualified for a certain span of time – say five, ten or fifteen years – from being the part of August parliament and Assemblies as a punishment.

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