Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Double standards in punishment. The 'privileges committee' issue.

Recently the venerable Mr. Somnath Chatterjee the Lok Sabha Speaker decided to punish disorderly conduct by 32 MPs to the House privileges committee. A vast majority of the MPs belong to the NDA and after some days of protest, animated arguments the parties worked to a compromise, with the Speaker withdraws the motion. This is not a unique incident of Parliamentary disorder as can be observed by anyone following Indian politics.
However The Chindu as is whim decides to rap the NDA for its unproductive attitude and gives a sermon on conduct. The article can be read here,
http://www.hindu.com/2008/05/07/stories/2008050755111000.htm
At the outset, let me declare that I'm in no way saying that the actions of the NDA members was correct or that their behavior was becoming of a Parliamentary member.
The same attitude is seen at any legislature from the Lok Sabha to any state legislature assembly. When the assemblies were created, the founders laid rules on elections, processes and functioning but not very specific rules on who should be elected. Hence the overall population of the various assemblies is filled with undereducated, uneducated people often with criminal records. Ergo the behaviour of such people.
Somnath himself is no stranger to these acts, having been a leader of the Communists in filibustering through sessions and in 1989 was suspended for misbehavior. (Refer to Indian Express for more details).
He has been more considerate of his party members during their various antics when as a Speaker he should have been impartial.
All this is not discussed in the Chindu which conveniently ignores the facts that the Communists have lead such acts over the last 20 years and decides to wave the finger at one party alone when all the others were equally to blame for such a condition. It decides to sermonize with statements like,
Members of the BJP, usually the noisiest as well as the most disruptive — 22 BJP MP's were hauled up in the latest case — sat with their fingers on their lips in a signal of defiance against a presiding officer who had dared to discipline them.

And like this one,
What is the value of a promise made to a presiding officer whom the BJP MP's have disobeyed and insulted in the past, never missing a chance to accuse him of bias and on occasion even calling him a dictator?

Is asking for fairness in treatment a bit too much?

13 comments:

pilid said...

DD,
Surveys have been done of MPs' qualifications and a majority have been found to hold a graduate degree. These attempts to create disorder in the house are calculated and deliberate strategies to attract public attention and not so much because they are not smart enough to debate matters or disciplined enough to shut up. They are in fact egged on by party leaders to engage in such behavior.

While I am no expert on the rules of parliamentary conduct, I find two points in Kashyap's writing to be of interest. The first is that other parties have also done it in the past notably the communists (the double standard of the Hindu, as you point out, is particularly striking here).

The second is that punishing members for disorderly conduct is not the norm and therefore the speaker's action was anomalous. He is right about that but that cannot be an excuse for not doing anything about it. In my view, strong measures are absolutely necessary at this time to stem further deterioration in conduct - the privilege of involvement in the House's proceedings ought to be denied to those bent on abusing the occasion to create chaos. The problem with Chatterjee's order is that similar conduct a few days ago did not elicit such a response from him making his most recent action appear partisan. To prevent such a perception, he ought to have forewarned members of the action he would take in the event of such disturbance. That way, anyone indulging in it would have been penalized and such allegations would have carried less substance.

Anonymous said...

learn to spell privileges before you cast stones at chindu

Anonymous said...

"learn to spell privileges before you cast stones at chindu"

He He Sidd is back and hitting at people critical of The Chindu. Is it 'cast stones at' or 'cast stones on'? Is it 'hitting on people' or 'hitting at people' Sidd? You Stephanians often get your English right and the subject wrong. However good you are Sidd, you are still rotting with The Chindu and not certainly WP and NYT.

Bairavi

Dirt Digger said...

Pilid,
I agree that MP's might be slightly educated from their degree certificates though their behavior suggests otherwise.
But my point was the larger context of the so called people's representatives, MLA's, MP's and the like and I'm reasonably confident that the most do not have basic education standards to find a job in India.
The actions by Somnath raise the concern about behaviours by his party members who have, by default, become the veritable "teacher's pets". While the behaviour might not be correctable in the short run, it would seem prudent to take Hamid Ansari's suggestion to hold more sessions to make up for the time lost.

Dirt Digger said...

Anon,
Wow, looks like the supporters of Chindu can read. I've made the correction. Could you read the article now and share your thoughts?

Dirt Digger said...

Bairavi,
Thanks for your support. It would really be great if those who support the Chindu offer some real arguments.
Unfortunately they do not.
We are looking forward to some real discussions from the pro-Chindu supporters.

Puratchi said...

If you can't spell, we can always recommend you for re-education.

Anonymous said...

puratchi,
If you cannot think, maybe Chindu will recommend you for a brain transplant. But how can people who need a transplant recommend one. LOL.
Read the post before commenting.

Anonymous said...

privileges

Anonymous said...

Chinduphiles are just like their idol Chindu. They can argue as long as its an echo chamber, which Chindu happens to be. Otherwise nitpicking is the name of game.
-socal

Anonymous said...

"If you can't spell, we can always recommend you for re-education."

If you can't read, maybe you should've never finished your education.

Raghav said...

Chindu's supporters prove to be equally ignorant as their leader Chief Ram.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately this speaker only offered to resign when the left front MPs were rushing in to intimitate T R Baalu over Marine Institute Bill (to be instituted in Chennai). This speaker should have referred that issue as well to the privilege committee.

Jyotirmaya Sharma