Speaker Chatterjee says it all

chatterjeeParliament and pandemonium are inseparable. Noises and adjournments are common in the highest of Indian public representatives. What was unseen and unheard till yesterday – Speaker wishing all the MPs to lose in the upcoming parliamentary elections. He has been pushed to the periphery of frustration.

 

 Somnath Chatterjee, known for his “headmasterly” approach as Lok Sabha Speaker, was at his harshest best on Thursday, telling a section of MPs that they did not deserve a “single paisa” of public money and that he wished they were defeated in the coming elections

Chatterjee’s outburst came as question hour was plunged into chaos by vociferous MPs across party lines demanding a hearing on diverse issues. Failing to persuade them to relent, he cursed, “I hope that all of you are defeated in the election. All of you should be defeated in the election… I hope you are identified by people.” He had to adjourn the question hour moments later.

Later in the session, he threw up his hands, saying Parliament should be adjourned sine die to save people’s money. “You do not deserve one paisa out of public money.”

While disruption of proceedings has been the flashpoint between the Chair and the MPs during the entire 14th Lok Sabha, often leading to unprecedented barbs and some real pearls from an angry Chatterjee, Thursday’s drama appeared to have breached his known tolerance threshold, crucially when the Lok Sabha is meeting for one last time and the 10-term MP from West Bengal would be quitting politics for good.

On Thursday, MPs were more keen to make political points with their constituencies ahead of polls — BSP on the SC/ST reservation Bill, Dravidian outfits on the Tamil issue, TDP on the Satyam scam against Andhra Pradesh government.

As they did not heed the Speaker, Chatterjee appeared to have used the “pox on you” rebuke to try scaring the usually superstitious tribe into retreat. “I hope the people will give their verdict properly. You have to be taught a lesson.” But, all to no avail.

Over around five years as arbiter, the Speaker’s admonition of disrupting MPs has been quite a sight, training the observers’ focus more sharply on wastage of time due to adjournments and unapproved interventions.

The political parties have not really agreed to the Speaker’s wishes that rules be respected and that the question hour be spared, but Chatterjee has waged a relentless battle to impose discipline.

Though popular as an MP, Chatterjee has evoked strong emotions from different corners in the House after occupying the Chair. The lowest point in Chair-MP skirmishes came in August 2005 when Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee flung papers at him, accusing him of being biased against the opposition. The BJP and NDA also charged him with bias on various occasions. The Left MPs who had supported him during his confrontation with BJP, turned the `bias’ charge back on him after he defied the leadership diktat to oppose the nuclear deal.

The defiance, however, have not stopped Chatterjee from venting his frustration, right from his unprecedented remark: “I am ashamed to be sitting here as the Speaker.”

Since then, he has admonished rowdy MPs with observations like “bring a no-confidence motion against me if you want” while he has dotted his moments of anger with a resigned “the chair has lost its prestige” remark.

On Thursday, Chatterjee said, “You are insulting the people of this country. You are not helping your cause… You are burying democracy in this country. You have already done it. Nobody bothers,” before he signed off, “I express my greatest condemnation… of your conduct. You have taken the people for a ride and you are insulting the people of this country by your abominable behaviour.”

 

 

Enough is enough

Time lost lowing to interruptions in the Lok Sabha

Session        Actual          Time lost                      Time lost

                  Sitting        because of interruption      as % of actual time of sitting

                  (hr:min)        (hr:min)                      

I                13.41              10.32                             77%

II              92.29               47.16                             51%

III           103.21               06.41                               6%

1V           212.22               37.99                            18%

V             158.48               10.21                             7%

VI            118.49              27.33                            23%

VII          194.55               35.42                            18%

VIII         124.04               70.13                            55%

IX            117.13               25.34                            22%

X              127.04               70.13                           55%

XI            64.24                  42.07                          65%

XII           91.07                  20.36                          23%

XIII         162.09                 28.30                          18%

XIV          96.15                  15.13                           16%

 

Times of India, 20.2.2009, p.19

 

This downslide of parliamentary output is disturbing to the public welfare watchers. The parliamentarians should understand their status and power before indulging in disturbing the work of the House. With such a casual approach to the governance through inadequate debates sounds death bell to the parliamentary culture.

         

 

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. +00002009-02-20T10:52:14+00:00282009bUTCFri, 20 Feb 2009 10:52:14 +0000 2, 2008 at 7.27 p02

    […] original here: Speaker Chatterjee says it all Related ArticlesBookmarksTags There are no related articles. Digg it Stumble […]

  2. Misha said,

    +00002009-03-03T12:43:10+00:00312009bUTCTue, 03 Mar 2009 12:43:10 +0000 2, 2008 at 7.27 p03

    First blog I read after wakeup from sleep today!

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