People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXX

No. 33

August 13, 2006

ATTACK ON LOK SABHA SPEAKER

 

Denounce BJPís Contempt For Democracy 

 

Sitaram Yechury

 

THE BJPís utter contempt for parliamentary democracy and its institutions is visible once again. This time around, the BJP-led NDA disrupted the Lok Sabha and boycotted its proceedings on August 8 under the specious plea that the speakerís conduct was not impartial. While we shall return to this absurd charge later, it should be underlined that the RSS/BJP has not spared any constitutional authority from attack if a decision by such authority runs contrary to their desired political objectives. As noted in these columns, a couple of weeks ago, they tried to invoke the institution of the President of India to commit a constitutional impropriety on the `office of profití legislation. Earlier, on many occasions, they had assailed the Human Rights Commission, the Election Commission, the judiciary and the parliament itself in pursuit of their sectarian communal agenda. 

 

Some years earlier, when the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) indicted the Gujarat state government of its complicity in the State-sponsored communal genocide, the RSS/BJP mounted an indecent attack on the NHRC. In the event, the subsequent investigations and judicial verdicts have upheld the NHRCís observations on many counts. Clearly, the RSS/BJPís attack was aimed at covering up the nebulous role of the BJP government in Gujarat in the communal flare up that they in the first place provoked and prompted. Such attacks on parliamentary institutions are also meant to protect the guilty which in itself is a violation of the law of the land. 

 

Likewise, when an Election Commission refused to be a party to the RSS/BJPís strategy of holding elections in Gujarat in the immediate aftermath of the communal genocide, the EC was assailed. The attack went to the extent of invoking the personal religious preferences of the then chief election commissioner. In this instance as well, the Supreme Court upheld the validity of the ECís assessment and authority to decide on the election dates. 

 

On this particular occasion, the charges hurled by the BJP/NDA against the Lok Sabha speaker are unheard of. On the charge that he is displaying partisanship, let the facts speaks for themselves. An adjournment motion is normally moved by the opposition on an important issue. If such a motion carries, then it would be untenable for the incumbent government to continue. In the 12th Lok Sabha, the then speaker did not allow a single adjournment motion to be admitted. In the 13th Lok Sabha, when the BJP-led NDA was the government, the then speaker admitted five adjournment motions only during its full term of five years. During the 14th Lok Sabha, speaker Somnath Chatterjee has already admitted five adjournment motions. More than two and a half years of this Lok Sabhaís term still remains. Likewise, if the calling attention motions are compared, then in the 12th Lok Sabha, there were eleven, in the 13th Lok Sabha, there were 60 and in the 14th Lok Sabha, till August 4, 2006, 78 calling attention motions had been admitted. 

 

These figures speak for themselves. They, in fact, confirm the exact opposite of what the BJP/NDA insinuate. The present speaker has obviously gone out of his way to accommodate the sentiments of the opposition in permitting discussions on matters raised by them. It, in fact, proves that Somnath Chatterjee is, on all counts, more non-partisan than the previous two NDAís speakers. 

 

These facts are well-known to the BJP-led NDA. Yet, they choose to disrupt the parliamentary proceedings. So far, during this monsoon session, the Lok Sabha was convened on 11 days. Out of these, five days were disrupted by the BJP-led opposition. This is gross irresponsibility displayed by the main opposition party apart from constituting a huge wastage of time and national resources. Clearly, for the BJP/NDA, the pursuit of its partisan political agenda is more important than the parliament discussing issues of national concern and importance and forcing the government to take remedial measures. The most glaring case is the fact that when the country is in the grip of severe floods affecting the life and security of crores of our people, with many lives already lost, and agony and distress stalking over large parts of the country, the BJP/NDA chooses to indulge in such pursuits. This is a national shame. This only exposes, completely, the BJP/NDAís total lack of concern for peopleís plight. 

 

The time has come for the voters in the constituencies that have elected the NDA members to the parliament to begin questioning their representativesí conduct. The people have elected them to represent their interests and to further policies that will improve their livelihood, while, at the same time, taking up issues of national importance. Such irresponsible behaviour where one-half of the parliament time is lost through such disruptions is tantamount to negating the peopleís mandate. Such behaviour by the BJP-led NDA in the parliament cannot be allowed to continue.