“Parliament and the members were a reflection of the will of the people of the country”

Without naming Team Anna and without adopting a formal resolution, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, on behalf of the House, on Tuesday condemned attempts at lowering the dignity of Parliament and its members.

The Speaker made a strongly worded, yet dignified, statement at the prodding of members, cutting across party lines, at the end of the debate, which JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav initiated after moving a resolution on the issue.

Most speakers and parties urged the Chair to not only to move a censure motion but also refer the matter to the Privileges Committee saying the question of dignity of the House was more crucial and sought the protection of the Chair.

Consequently, the Speaker stressed Parliament and the members were a reflection of the will of the people of the country.

Ms. Kumar said “any remark lowering the dignity and esteem of this august House was unwarranted and totally unacceptable.”

She underlined the rigorous scrutiny the members had to undergo while filing their nomination papers, meeting all the conditions set by the Election Commission, various laws and the model code of conduct. “After meticulously assessing their conduct and performance, the people of India, in their wisdom, elect them.”

She concluded: “Parliament, therefore, reflects the collective will of the people of our country.”

Earlier, Mr. Yadav urged the Speaker to take action against such criticism that presented a biased view of Parliament without projecting the positive side to the people. Spreading darkness would have its own repercussions, he warned.

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh demanded that they should be produced in the House as accused and punished, while Dara Singh Chauhan (BSP) said the use of derogatory language was also an insult of the people whom the members represented.

Union Minister Farooq Abdullah also took exception to remarks made against the members by a section of the civil society groups and said he would quit the House and politics if anyone could prove wrongdoings on his part. “I've come here to serve the country, not to hear such criticism.”

The RJD's Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said there was a need for introspection as well, pointing out that failure to pass the Lokpal Bill despite adopting three resolutions in connection with it sent a wrong message among the people.

He questioned the logic of some parties and leaders rushing to Jantar Mantar to share the dais with some civil society groups when the people had elected them to this House and had given them the right to serve the people directly. He also saw no reason to give importance to such desperate utterances to stem their fading relevance.

Soon after Parliament expressed its condemnation, Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal said there were questions in people's minds that had not been addressed.

“What about the 162 members who have charges of criminal complaints against them. Should there not be fast-track courts to try these cases? In future, will Bills be torn, will mikes and chairs be thrown around in these democratic institutions and will there be horse trading? These are the questions have remained unanswered.”

Another key member Kiran Bedi said it was an opportunity for a debate in Parliament on trying to understand the real reason for public outcry, which was for clean politics.

“Parliament could have resolved not to give ticket to persons who have been judicially charged of serious heinous crimes. And also have special courts to expedite trials of such persons who want to represent the people in the temples of democracy. It is an historical opportunity lost.”

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