Why Should MPs Be Paid For Disrupting Parliament?
Let me say first and foremost: I am hugely dismayed, dejected and disappointed to see how Member of Parliaments (MPs) are disrupting Parliament time and again and not allowing Parliament to function smoothly. This under no circumstances can ever be justified. These MPs don’t bother that how much money of taxpayer is getting wasted when they repeatedly adjourn Parliament and even while in session don’t allow it to function smoothly by disrupting Parliament on one pretext or the other.
While craving for the exclusive indulgence of my esteemed readers, let me inform them that I am not alone in feeling so. This is the overwhelming opinion of majority of citizens of India. To top it all, even the first person of India – former President late Pranab Mukherjee had too while he was President had openly and very strongly expressed his huge seething anger over the logjam in Parliament and said that the House is not a place for dharna and disruptions which amounts to “gagging of majority” by the minority.
For my esteemed readers exclusive indulgence, let me also inform them that late Pranab Mukherjee also minced no words in making it absolutely clear that, “Three Ds are essential in a democracy and these are debate, dissension and decision. But there was no fourth D. At least my teacher did not tell me that there is a fourth D which is disruption”. His observations assumes huge significance as both the Houses of Parliament saw proceedings being washed out yet again on December 9 with the Opposition demanding the Government mourn the deaths caused due to hardships after demonetisation. Nothing on earth can be more unfortunate than this that time and again Parliament is witnessing disruption and yet MPs time and again themselves approve 100% or 200% or 300% hike in their pay as they have the unfettered licence to hike their salaries whenever they want. No one else decides for them as to how much pay they should receive. It is they themselves who decide for themselves as to how much pay they should receive.
Be it noted, the Opposition leaders also observed one month of the monetisation decision by wearing black bands and staging protests in Parliament complex. Speaking on ‘Electoral reforms for a stronger democracy’ on the occasion of Defence Estates lecture, the President Dr Pranab Mukherjee said unequivocally that, “Disruption is totally unacceptable in Parliamentary system. People send representatives to speak and not to sit on dharna and not to create any trouble on the floor.” Very rightly said and there can be no denying this!
Let me be direct in asking: Why MPs have the freedom to disrupt Parliament? Why are they not permanently barred from entering Parliament if they disrupt Parliament? Why MPs have the colonial power to retain houses at taxpayer’s expense even after they complete their tenure? Why MPs salary is not deducted if they disrupt Parliament? Why are MPs not fined if they disrupt Parliament? Same is the case with MLAs when they brashly disrupt State Assemblies!
Truth be told, why for acquiring any government job there is a proper police verification and even if one case is found registered in any police station the concerned candidate is debarred from joining any government service but for becoming an MP or MLA you can be a Phoolan Devi and murder many and still enter Parliament and term cases as “politically motivated”? Why MPs are not made to disclose all their assets and why their unaccounted assets not seized immediately? Why MPs are not made to disclose all donations they receive publicly and same is the case with political parties? Why they are exempted from RTI Act?
To put things in perspective, himself a veteran Parliamentarian before becoming the President, Dr Pranab Mukherjee palpably anguished by the manner in which the winter session of Parliament has been stalled due to disruptions made no bones in saying from his inner heart that, “Disruption means you are hurt, you are gagging majority. Majority never participates in this disruption. Only minority comes to the well, shouts slogans, stop the proceedings and creates a situation in which the Chair has no option but to adjourn the House. This is totally unacceptable.” Those minority who disrupt Parliament must seriously introspect on what the President has said! But they care a damn and that alone explains why they repeatedly disrupt Parliament!
As it turned out, the President noted that Parliament is in session for only a few weeks in a year. Rest is all washed out in disruption. Now you can imagine how many crores and crores of rupees are wasted for no purpose by MPs and they have no regret in doing so and will also give hundred reasons to justify it. You just cannot convince them under any circumstances because they think that what they do is right and rest all others are wrong including the President!
For all practical purposes, it is in national interest for Parliament to function normally so that all important Bills are passed and meaningful discussion takes place in Parliament. But what we hear in Parliament is nothing but shouting and slanging matches except on few occasions when few members speak on serious issues and they too are frequently disrupted. When will this end?
While maintaining that he was not targeting any single party or individuals, the President was quite forthright in saying that the responsibility of allowing Parliament to function is of everyone. He said that, “Fact remains that this (disruption) has become a practice which should not be acceptable at all. Whatever be the differences, we have the opportunity to speak our mind, to speak freely and no court can interfere in what I say on the floor of the House.” Why can’t MPs pay heed to what President Dr Pranab Mukherjee has said with a heavy heart?
To say the least, President Dr Pranab Mukherjee pointed out that even if a member is leveling an allegation against someone, no court can prosecute him because he has said so on the floor of the House. President minced no words in making it clear to all MPs that, “This type of freedom should not be misused by causing disruption”. It is high time and now this freedom must be ended once and for all so that MPs are also held liable just like any other ordinary individual!
Recalling the past days, President pointed out that, “When India’s budget was paltry and when outlay of Five Year Plan was very meager, two-thirds of time of Parliament was devoted to discussing money and finance. This was because elected representatives in Lok Sabha have singular right under which no tax can be imposed without their approval and neither can any money be withdrawn from the consolidated fund without their approval. No amount can be spent from the consolidated fund of India without the approval of Parliament. But if these issues are not debated, when you are spending Rs 16 lakh to Rs 18 lakh crore per year, if these things are not properly scrutinized on the floor of the House, not debated, not discussed, I do not see that our parliamentary system can be very effective and can proceed successfully.”
What an unbeatable irony that our former President late Dr Pranab Mukherjee said with a very heavy heart that, “Don’t disrupt Parliament. For God’s sake, do your job.” But Opposition is just not prepared to abide by what he is appealing them to. Not just this, even the Government is no less and they too want that MPs should have unfettered licence to do what they want to do and as they like to do and under no circumstances should they be punished in any manner. Nor should they be thrown out of Parliament nor should their salary be deducted nor should they be punished in any other manner, nor should there be any educational qualifications for them nor should they be debarred even if many criminal cases are pending against them!
For how long? If any other person does anything slightly wrong especially those in government services they are immediately thrown out but why MPs are above all such rules and regulations? MPs must be made to pay for the disruption they cause and no salary should be given to them under any circumstances for the time they disrupt Parliament. No MP should be allowed to disrupt Parliament and they must be thrown out if they insist on disrupting Parliament and should be permanently barred from entering Parliament which is the highest institution of democracy! This will be the best tribute that we can pay to Parliament! Nothing better than this!