Leader of the Lok Sabha and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday lamented that a handful of members throttle “silent majority” and called for a mechanism that will eliminate disruptions.
“On many occasions, this House has been tumultuous, tempers ran high, but disruptions were the least this House has adopted.
“Because when we disrupt the House then it serves no purpose. We cannot hear. We cannot speak. Only a handful of members completely throttle the desire of a silent majority to speak,” Mr. Mukherjee said, initiating the debate to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the first sitting of Parliament.
Mr. Mukherjee said Parliament has acted as a “shock absorber” on several occasions and whenever there have been disputes, dissensions, the Lok Sabha has played a role in defusing it.
“Whenever there were tensions, disputes and dissensions, it has come to this House and under this great dome we have been able to defuse that on most occasions,” he said.
Mr. Mukherjee noted there has been confrontation in the federal structure between various organs of the government and judiciary, executive and legislature. “But over the years we have evolved a system and able to find an amicable solution,” he said.
Sceptics proved wrong
Endorsing the views of Mr. Mukherjee, BJP leader L.K. Advani said tolerance and understanding for each others’ views and debates in Parliament can solve issues.
Highlighting the success of Indian parliamentary system, he said views of the Opposition are given due understanding and respect. “Parliament is a major example of that,” he said adding that he endorsed the views of Mr. Mukherjee that differences can be resolved through debates.
Referring to famous thinker Charvak, Mr. Advani said his line of ‘eat, drink and make merry’ was understood and respected despite the fact that he challenged the traditional philosophy that you pay for your sins in the next birth.
The BJP leader said people sceptical of a country of poor and illiterate people becoming a successful democracy have been proved wrong.
“Western intellectuals were sceptical on how people who cannot sign and put thumb impression on papers will be able to run democracy...today we can say it with pride that we have proved them wrong,” he said. He said in the past 60 years, we have turned India into a successful democracy.
Anniversary an occasion for reflection
Congress president Sonia Gandhi said members should live up to the ideals of the founding fathers of the Constitution. The 60th anniversary of the first sitting of Parliament was an occasion for reflection on its achievements, she said.
She said the “journey of Parliament had not always been smooth or without challenges” and the anniversary “was also an occasion for reflection.”
The UPA chairperson emphasised that independence of Parliament must be protected at all costs and urged members to live up to the ideals of the makers of Constitution.
“Our conduct must be according to the standards of founding fathers,” Ms. Gandhi said.
Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP) said the House should take a pledge to fulfil the dreams of Mahatma Gandhi as farmers’ suicides and hunger-related deaths remain a major challenge for the country.
He said on the occasion, soldiers who have been guarding the borders, should be saluted as they have been instrumental in protecting democracy.
Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said despite having expert parliamentarians and legislators, government is taking help of committees to ascertain the number of poor. He also questioned how number of calories consumed could be a basis of ascertaining poverty.
“Democracy has reached Parliament. It should reach the doorsteps of the poor,” he said, making a strong plea to send a message for ending social and economic discrimination.
The JD(U) leader said it was only Parliament, which has taken steps to stem the rot in the system by expelling members and even sending some to jail.
Sudip Bandopadhyay (Trinamool Congress) said Parliament should reflect the ideals of the national anthem and become “a representative Parliament, which is open and transparent, accessible, accountable and an effective House.”
“Parliament should continue for the full five-year term. We should ensure it is not dissolved in 13 days or 13 months as in the past. It leads to huge financial losses to the nation.”
TKS Elangovan (DMK) said earlier the Prime Minister’s assurances in the House used to be the law and the House has been “strongly divided but also solidly united” on issues. “We should restore that glory to the House.”