The article “Parliamentary democracy & some challenges” (Nov. 15), based on a lecture delivered by Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, should act as a tonic to all those who are disillusioned with the poor performance and accountability levels of politicians. Judicial activism which, for a brief while, lured a section of the middle class, has ceased to inspire. The Hindu should have published the full text, rather than excerpts, of the speech by a well respected politician — who is noble, gentle, and sincere — on the political situation, calling for action from the young to take the country out of the rut.
Mr. Chatterjee has provided an insight into the working of our democratic institutions. The revelation that over one-fourth of parliamentary time was lost in the first three years of the 14th Lok Sabha due to disruptions shows how serious our representatives are about discharging their parliamentary obligations.
The people should bear this in mind while sending representatives to Parliament.
Mr. Chatterjee’s charge that the judiciary has encroached upon the exclusive jurisdiction of the legislature is unfortunate. The Constitution has made the Supreme Court the final authority, vested with the power to invalidate executive and legislative action in appropriate cases. The challenges to parliamentary democracy emanate from within and not from outside. The article itself states the reasons for the cynicism that is creeping into the people’s minds about the relevance of parliamentary democracy.
The article starts by exhorting politicians to mend their ways to save our democracy from falling apart. However, it ends up blaming the media and the judiciary for the poor esteem in which politicians are held. It amounts to shooting the messenger for bringing bad news. It is not just the standards of parliamentary behaviour among our MPs that have fallen; their ethical standards too leave much to be desired. This assessment of politicians is not just a ‘perception’ that has been generated by the media and the judiciary. Many persons with criminal record have joined politics and they are patronised by all the parties. Political parties and the Election Commission should jointly evolve a mechanism to arrest this downslide in the quality of our representatives.