Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar said on Tuesday said that government freebies had left people in a state of political intoxication and the matter required serious deliberation.
Mr. Dhankhar said “the temples of democracy” are now “hotbeds of disturbance and disruptions”. Legislatures are “fast surging into irrelevance”, leaving the country in a “cliff-hanger-like” situation, he said.
He was delivering the valedictory address at the 9th regional conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) in Udaipur.
House losing credibility
Mr. Dhankhar said if parliamentarians don’t occupy the public space in Parliament, other people will occupy it outside.
His comments follow repeated disruptions during the Monsoon session of Parliament over the violence in Manipur as the Opposition and Treasury Benches could not agree on a common rule to debate the issue.
He mentioned that despite agreeing to a discussion on Manipur on July 20th it did not fructify till the end.
“The temples of democracy meant for dialogue, deliberation, debate and discussion are, because of legislators, hotbeds of disturbance and disruption. As a consequence Parliament and legislatures are surging into irrelevance,” he said.
Quoting B.R. Ambedkar, he said Parliament will be treated by people outside with “utter contempt” if parliamentarians do not realise their responsibility towards public welfare.
“When legislature meets, Parliament meets, who is bothered? What is the space occupied? What is the perception generated? Only disruption, disturbance, boycotts and unruly conduct gets reported. This situation augurs ill for democratic values,” Mr. Dhankhar said.
“We are now faced with grim reality. Let us all pledge to be alive to these prophetic concerns by the Architect of the Constitution and retrieve the situation. We are clinging. We are about to lose grip. If parliamentarians, representatives of the people don’t occupy the public space in Parliament, other people will occupy it outside,” he added.
MPs not serious
The Rajya Sabha Chairman said parliamentarians and legislators are taking their jobs lightly and that gives a reprieve to the executive as well as bureaucrats.
“In any democracy, parliamentary sovereignty is inviolable. Of all the organsations — executive, judiciary and legislature, the legislature is supreme. We have made the legislature vulnerable. We have made it vulnerable because we have refused to vindicate our oath,” he said.
Mr. Dhankhar’s statement on “political largesse” could stoke a controversy as the ruling BJP and Opposition parties have engaged over the issue of freebies in the past.
“Political intoxication of people by distribution of largesse requires serious deliberation,” he said. “Reaching out to people, by greasing their palms or pockets, may be a short-term success story, but for the nation, long-term damage…”.
He said an ecosystem that empowers people should be created, instead of doling out freebies as it impedes long term development.