Houses in Disorder.
The Parliament became a free for all arena during the just concluded session on the issue of bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. Opposition to the formation of Andhra Pradesh was very much visible when the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh led protests in Delhi as well as when the State Assembly did not approve of it. There were dissenting voices among the Members of Parliament from Seemandhra. But nobody expected it to take the offensive and shameful form it took, when an MP whipped a can of pepper spray and sprayed it on the fellow Parliamentarians. Those from Seemandhra resist the division with equal force - as a move that will affect commerce and livelihoods, access to water, power, the future of their Capital, as well as peace and harmony prevailing in Andhra Pradesh
Rajagopal MP was widely condemned for the incident, which saw him being suspended from Lok Sabha by the Speaker.
He, however, defended his act saying he had used the pepper spray to defend one of his parliamentary colleagues, who was being "manhandled" by political opponents.
Onus lies on the party in power that it could not convince own MPs on the issue and make them stand united. The simmering discontent was more than open for anybody to see. It was a tough job, to reconcile the irreconcilable, but it did not believe in dealing firmly, as even the loss of a few MPs would lead to the fall of the Government, which does not have a majority of its own. The bifurcation was a political decision and not an official or a bureaucratic one. It is also a fact that there is no discipline even among the legislators.
Normally, when a ruckus occurs in any legislature, the fall guy is the Opposition, as generally, they are the ones to raise issues with a view to find fault with the government of the day.
But in this case, the ruling party cannot blame the Opposition. In the present case, it is the ruling party which has been faulted by its own members. In fact, it is not something new as the following details of such happenings would show. Earlier, there used to be pushing and jostling in the Well of the Legislatures, tearing clothes, abusing, beating each other or even trying to beat each other, throwing projectiles, using mikes or other movable objects as missiles. They have been left behind by the pepper spray now.
Some of the past discreditable and appalling incidents happened in various State Assemblies and the Lok Sabha are mentioned in chronological order:
January 1988, Tamil Nadu;
March 1989, Tamil Nadu;
October 1997, U P;
February 2009, UP;
September 2011, Rajasthan;
October 2011, Jammu and Kashmir;
December 2011, Odisha;
December 2011, Lok Sabha;
April 2012, Rajasthan;
September 2012, Jharkhand;
September 2012, Lok Sabha.
The Speaker of the Lok Sabha has directed the Parliamentary Committee on Security to hold a meeting to consider the events in the House. A Committee Member, who has refused to be identified, said: "We really have a difficult task at hand. We have taken proper care after the terror strike on Parliament a decade back so that such incidents do not recur. But what can one do when a family member himself tries to set the house on fire."
The Committee will examine all security-related matters, including means to prevent bringing of dangerous and life-threatening material into the chamber of the House by MPs.
In all fairness, there should be equal treatment for everybody on the security of Parliamentarians. It is amazing that one attack on Parliament has not been enough to take tough security measures. What is there to prevent a terrorist to undergo a facial surgery and fake papers to enter the Parliament and blow it up, causing undreamt of loss of life and property right in the heart of the Government. On the security of Parliamentarians, tough measures are required, including CCTV cameras to record the entry and exit of the members and subjecting everybody to a thorough search. There should be no pampering and no half measures on the ground that some members may be annoyed.
VIP culture has taken deep roots in the country that anybody who is somebody in some field feels that he is an asset to the nation and he should not be treated as a commoner even on matters of security. Forget about flaunting this attitude in India, they want the same treatment to be meted out to them even when visiting foreign countries. It is time to end it.
The working of the security apparatus in the US after the 9/11 attack could be worth looking at in this regard. There had hardly been any terrorist attack in the US after the World Trade Centre attack there.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Indian Currents.
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