Wednesday, 3 August 2016

India Inc should use ‘tear gas’

India Inc has done a great service to the country by launching a signature campaign against disruptions of the Parliament. India Inc has rightly asserted that the Parliament is not the personal property of any party and that it is very much its business. India Inc makes very significant contribution to the economy and the society and has to be concerned with everything that affects the economy and society.

India Inc had to caution the opposition MPs because other bodies claiming to work for democracy did not take any visible initiative. The NGO, Foundation for Restoration of National Values, has filed a PIL requesting the Supreme Court to framing guidelines for smooth running of the Parliament only now. The charge mentioned in the PIL is that stalling the Parliament proceedings results in loss of Rs. 30,000 of public money every minute and that over the last 19 years, 2163 hours of the Lok Sabha’s time had been wasted due to disruptions by its own members. The reality is that the damage being done by failure to pass important legislations is astronomical. 

The Parliament is business of every citizen of the country. If the MPs do not know this basic thing they are not suitable for the Parliament. The people have sent them to the Parliament to do parliamentary work. At the time of election they swear by the Constitution, make all sorts of promises, pretend to be the most well behaved boys and girls and beg for votes with folded hands but once elected they become arrogant and lose their cool if anyone questions their irresponsible behavior. 

The trouble with the opposition MPs, the Congress in particular, is that they fear that if the Modi Government achieves even half of what it has promised, they have no chance of snatching power in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Therefore, they are hell bent on stopping any reform which might improve the Indian economy. Most of the opposition parties have sided with the Congress because they have a common vested interest in keeping India poor. The mass poverty gives them opportunity to beat their breasts and shed tears for the ‘poor’. Read the election manifesto of the Congress released before the 1945-46 elections and read the subsequent manifestoes. They have been saying almost the same thing about removal of the curse of poverty.

It seems the Congress led opposition parties have already started campaign for the next general election. They have been discrediting the Modi government since day one and with every day passing, their protests are becoming louder and louder. They do not want to take any chance.

Neither Sonia nor Rahul has done anything  – in fact they are not capable of doing anything – to be called leader. They have simply inherited their political position, one by virtue of marriage and the other by virtue of birth. Both are incapable of participating in meaningful discussion on any important issue. That is why they do not want to participate in any debate. They can only shout, hold demonstrations and call names. They have coined a  few terms and one-liners which they go on repeating. Arun Jaitley has rightly called Rahul ‘an expert without knowledge’. So is Sonia Gandhi. Even if a debate takes place and a BJP minister gives a befitting reply, the Congress MPs will continue to say what they have been told in advance by the mother or the son. The chit  Rahul was holding today proves that beyond doubt.

In fact, there is hardly anyone in the Congress, either in the Lok Sabha or in the Rajya Sabha, who is capable of serious debate. The same is true of most of our MPs. In developed countries like USA and UK we see serious discussions in the legislative bodies. In India we hear and see shouts and counter shouts, jumping in the Well, coming with play cards and if necessary demonstration of  muscle power. What a shame that protective barriers have to be put in front of Speaker's chair. If things go like this, the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Rajya Sabha Chairman will have to sit in bullet-proof glass enclosures.

(Technically, the barricade is around the desk of the Lok Sabha Secretary General. Since the desk is just below the Speaker's desk, in effect the Speaker's desk is also barricaded. According to a news item the area was fenced to keep lawmakers from crowding it, after particularly unruly protests by the Opposition provoked the Speaker to say, "This is the limit". Now that the 'limit' has been put up in a physical form, the 'lawmakers will find it difficult to cross it to behave like 'lawbreakers'. But wait, who knows tomorrow they may declare it 'limitation on their inherent right' to disrupt the House and, therefore, a  'limitation on democracy' and start disrupting the House on this very count?) 

Sonia Gandhi’s sole purpose in life is to see Rahul baba as Prime India. It is another matter that outside the small coterie no one considers him suitable for the job. Perhaps Sonia thinks that in this coalition era even a light-weight can become PM. If it has happened in the past, it can happen in the future. The Congress party being a family enterprise, everyone in the party depends on the family for his/her survival. No one who opposes the family can get ticket to any legislative body. Most of the Congress MPs in the Rajya Sabha are there not because they are public leaders but because of their loyalty to the family. All the Congress MPs have to do the family’s bidding. 

The Congress fellows demanding resignations of the central Ministers and Chief Ministers are saying that when the BJP was in opposition it had done the same thing. True, but they forget that each one of their ministers resigned only after there was prima facie evidence of corruption. That cannot be said about Sushma Swaraj or Shivaraj Singh Chouhan. If Lalit Modi has remained in the UK since 2010, it is primarily because of the UPA government which allowed him to flee and did nothing to bring him back. The CBI is investigating Vyapam scandal. So far it has not found anything against Chouhan. The Vyapam type scandal is throughout the country and has flourished because of corruption and inefficiency over decades of the Congress rule. Right in Delhi, there are thousands of fake doctors and other professionals. Instead of suggesting measures to stop perpetuation of this scandal which is damaging the society and the economy, the Congress fellows just want to exploit a national tragedy for gain to one family. Prime Minister Modi has rightly remarked that ‘while we want to save the country, they want to save a family.’

Even if he BJP as opposition party did not behave properly and stalled proceedings of the Parliament, does it mean that the Congress, the oldest political party of the country, should also do the same thing and make it a convention? The British parliamentary system works on the strength of healthy conventions. Do our politicians want to develop unhealthy conventions to make the legislative bodies dysfunctional? It should be made compulsory for every Indian politician to see the video of proceedings of impeachment of Clinton in the US Senate. Every word spoken by every member, for or against, was heard in pin drop silence. When will our politicians reach that level of maturity?  

The step taken by India Inc has not made any impact. The Congress MPs continue to behave irresponsibly. The two Houses of the Parliament have been adjourned sine die without passing legislations badly needed for economic development. The Congress must be happy that it has achieved its purpose.

What should be done now? We do not know the fate of the PIL filed against disruptions of the Lok Sabha. Even if the Supreme Court intervenes, it is highly unlikely that the recalcitrant politicians will change their behaviour. All MPs may unite to pass a legislation or even a constitutional amendment to give them right to disrupt the working of elected bodies. After all, legislators of all hues unite to protect their rights and privileges. Had the Modi government introduced a bill to raise the salary, allowances and perks of the MPs as suggested by a parliamentary committee, all MPs would have forgotten their differences and rushed to the Parliament to pass the bill 

I have a suggestion. Imagine an irresponsible crowd hell bent on disrupting public life and damaging public property. They are not listening to repeated appeals of the policemen. Ultimately, the policemen realise that appeals would not work. At the same time they are not allowed to use physical force. So, they burst tear gas shells to make the rowdy crowd feel the pain the innocent people are feeling. Or, they use water cannons to cool the temper of the crowd.

India Inc should also use ‘tear gas’: denial of financial help. The politicians should be told that no political party, no politician would receive any finance from any company if they do not behave properly. Denial of financial help is bound to bring tears in the eyes of politicians. Perhaps this is the only language they will understand because no political party can survive without financial help of India Inc.

If India Inc does not have courage to do that, it should launch a signature campaign against each and every MP who is behaving irresponsibly. Every Indian who wants to save democracy in the country should join such a campaign.

The media can also extend a helping hand by completely boycotting irresponsible politicians. Politicians without publicity are like fish without water.

In the absence of right to recall and  if we are not going to resort to protest march on a mas scale, these are the only options available.

Something serious has to be done to make the opposition MPs realise that they are damaging the democratic institutions and thereby harming the country.

August 13, 2015
Edited on August 15, 2015