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For an orderly house

For an orderly house
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Malladi Rama Rao: For an orderly house,The first week of the budget session of Parliament has brought up the continued relevance of the old adage that...

The first week of the budget session of Parliament has brought up the continued relevance of the old adage that says in politics, like in love and hate, anything is justified as long as the purpose of grabbing the headlines is achieved. Our politicians have no concern for the Gandhian maxim that means are as important as the goal post. That is why Kalyan Bannerjee, a two-term MP from Trinamool Congress, had the audacity to tell Speaker Sumitra Mahajan that she was not Modi Speaker. And veteran parliamentarian Mallikarjun Kharge told the treasury benches that the Congress would do what the opposition did in the 15th Lok Sabha.

Bannerjee is not new to courting trouble and to tendering apology once tempers have cooled. Two years ago, on November 26 to be precise, he had a verbal duel inside the Lok Sabha with the then Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, who had climbed the political ladder from the Youth Congress ranks.

Their exchanges soon became heated with Bannerjee turning “abusive”. Like his spat with Sumitra Mahajan, his ‘duel’ with Sharma took place when the TMC member was in the Well of the House raising slogans along with his party colleagues on the FDI issue. Their exchanges were not audible in the din but if we go by what Anand Sharma said later, Banerjee told him that “after two years when you are not a minister, nobody will even look at you... what do you think of yourself... who are you to tell us what we should do.”

Sharma and Mamata had worked together in the Youth Congress and then in the parent party, the Indira Congress, which is today Sonia Congress. In other words, the Congressman from Himachal Pradesh is senior in the pecking order to Kalyan and deserved some respect. “I don't want to join issues with him. It is unfortunate. He was offensive and less than civilised," Sharma told reporters after leaders from both sides made them smoke the peace pipe.

This recap of Kalyanism is to put in perspective his dig at the BJP veteran, who today is the longest-serving woman Member of Parliament. She is also one of the three members who have returned to the Lok Sabha for the eighth time, which is not an ordinary feat. Expectedly, the Speaker pulled up the TMC member and advised him and his colleagues to conduct well. The question is not hurting Sumitra Mahajan but it is of the dignity and decorum of Parliament, more so since what happens in the Lok Sabha becomes a bench mark.

While curtains have come down on the Kalyan issue, it is clear that the present Lok Sabha is not going to have a smooth ride in the days ahead. The Congress has already begun to become a Kejriwal clone. Like the Aam Aadmi Party convener, the Congress leadership thinks that to be relevant to the TRP-hungry media, it must appear to be active on the streets and on the floor of Legislature.

Going by the Congress show thus far, it is clear that the Grand Old Party is willing to earn the sobriquet of ‘bull in china shop’ as long as it is able to further its cause of keeping the BJP on the firing line. Dr Manmohan Singh, as Prime Minister, used to taunt the BJP patriarch L K Advani that he had not reconciled to the 2004 verdict. The same charge now can be hurled at the Congress after seeing the mother and son encourage their cadres to kick up a ruckus over price rise on the opening day of the budget session.

Frankly, the BJP committed a self-goal when the Congress demand for taking up the price rise issue instead of the Question Hour was rejected in the Lok Sabha forcing a couple of adjournments of the House. In the Rajya Sabha, however, the Modi sarkar did not stand in the Congress way and the elders had a long discussion on the seasonal phenomenon.

In the Upper House, the ruling alliance is in absolute minority, and, therefore, cannot afford to rub the opposition on the wrong side. So allowing the price rise discussion on Day One is good politics.

The party-wise position favours the ruling combine in the Lok Sabha; it can afford the luxury of giving in to the opposition tantrums just to keep them in good humour with an IOY for a rainy day. Extending this logic, one can say the treasury benches can accept the demand for voting on an adjournment motion, and use the vote to expose the pathetic plight of Congress, which styles itself as the party born to rule.

By insisting on an adjournment motion and voting on such motion, the Congress is only trying to make a point. It is not oblivious to the fate that awaits the motion.
So, it is no good for the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu to lament that ‘the undignified conduct of some members is extremely unfortunate.” Also deprecation of the use of "unbecoming" language, raising slogans and showing placards as if such things had never happened. Neither here nor there is Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s observation from the Chair “We all have been hurt by disruptions in the House during the last few days.”

The fact of the matter is that Indian Parliament has come a long way from the Nehruvian period when brain power mattered. These are the days of lung power with an eye for the eye-balls. Naidu, will, therefore, do well to keep the rule book aside and use his thinking cap to come up with answers to the challenges of the day.

He should always be one step ahead of the opposition as Kotha Raghuramaiah, a Telugu bidda like him, had demonstrated as the parliamentary affairs minister in the minority Indira Government after the Congress split in the sixties. Atal Behari Vajpayee admired Raghuramaiah’s dexterity and once hailed him as the Circus Master. It is clearly for the government to make its pick – ruckus and consequent adjournments or allowing some space to the opposition.

During the UPA rein, the Congress completely ignored the opposition BJP, and could not run Parliament most of the time. In its arrogance of power, the GOP forgot the simple truism that every member who enters the Lok Sabha is an elected leader of the people and hence deserves some respect and some space to articulate people’s concern in the talking shop, which Parliament is in essence.

Jaswant Singh, who occasionally sat on the Speaker’s chair and Rabi Ray as the Speaker, used to cool tempers by nudging angry members to take the floor. Both rarely adjourned the House unlike Balayogi, the Telugu Bidda, during the first NDA regime.

My case is simple. There is need for takers in Parliament as well for the refrain “Give Respect-Take Respect,” comedian, Brahmanandam, has made famous on the Telugu screen.

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