Observations about members stalling proceedings in Parliament during the current monsoon session dominated the inaugural session of the orientation programme for new members of Rajya Sabha here on Saturday.
Dwelling at length on the disruptions, Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari said that “protest, when it becomes habitual, loses novelty and therefore, its effect.”
Urging members to “think collectively” and devise ways to protest without impeding the rest of the work, he said, “Much too often we take the view that if we simply disrupt the proceedings of the house, we will make our point. I am afraid, it does not go down like that in public.”
“Parliament was at its best in its functioning of the standing committees but this aspect was not exposed to the public. So we have a paradox that the part that works does not come to the notice of the public and the part that does not work is shown day in and day out on television.”
Wondering whether protest could be the only form of functioning; he asked whether it could be the totality of the forms of expression. “If you want to make your point you can do so by debating,” he said, adding that the government could be held accountable through various instruments at the disposal of members including the question hour, discussions and debates. He pointed out that members could make use of their time--contributing to public life--in a genuine and serious manner, “or you may just decide to use the Rajya Sabha as another club card whose membership is much sought after, or you may use it simply for proximity to the corridors of power.”
At the outset he said in a lighter vein that his observations were not being said from the Chair in the House, so were not in the nature of a ruling. On the occasion, SP member Mohan Singh said that when there is deadlock, the channels of communications between the Ruling Party and the opposition should remain open. Disruptions on the spur of the moment can be understood, but not pre-determined decision even before the proceedings of the House begin, he added.