The people, MPs, Parliament, the Government, Opposition parties…
What happens in Parliament, that is not shown even by television channels which ‘dish out’ or ‘serve’ entertainment. Those people who have not seen Parliament television programmes still believe that Parliament is something very sacred and prestigious, in which the discussions held are always about their interests and where laws are made that will make their lives better. Since the last four years or say eight years, those who have been watching the proceedings in Parliament are not just amazed but are also troubled because whoever they send into Parliament, they can never see that person sitting on his or her chair. When the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha television cameras pan round the Houses, then empty chairs can be seen. There is only one time when the chairs are occupied, and that is sometimes 12 o’ clock, which is called the zero hour. In that hour, people vent their frustration, get angry and taunt each other. Some people read out from a written statement and then leave and in this way Parliament empties out for the whole day.
Many a time attention has been drawn to the issue that when there is a discussion in the House on questions like health, education, unemployment, inflation, why don’t the members take part in the discussion? Only the person who is speaking stands alone facing the camera and keeps speaking to it as if to fellow Parliamentarians. And if by mistake the cameraman shifts the focus from the person speaking, only a vacant House and empty chairs can be seen. Where do these MPs go and why? Between the two Houses of Parliament there is a space which is called Central Hall. The MPs sit in Central Hall and have non-vegetarian, vegetarian, North Indian, South Indian food, have breakfast and sweets too. They gossip, back-bite, pull each others legs. Because neither are they concerned about the pain of the common people nor the suffering of particular people. So whether it is the subject of health, the subject of education, the subject of corruption, whether it is the subject of inflation or employment, they do not consider it serious and therefore do not sit in the House. Between three to four in the evening, the quorum bell can ring anytime in the House, because there are not enough Members to even ensure that the quorum is complete. Then the Parliamentary Affairs Minister rushes to the Central Hall and requests the MPs to please sit in the House. Now, the question arises, what kind of Parliamentarians are these?
If this Parliament is not a temple of democracy, then has it become a den for people who promote corruption?… If the people sitting in Parliament are not troubled by the pain of the people, then what can one say to them, what adjectives should one search for them, and what honourable words should one coin for them?
A Minister makes comments on a fellow Parliamentarian in the same House. If a legal case can be framed against a comment made outside the House, then the question arises, why can’t a legal case be made on a comment inside the House? That is why, outside the house, an MP and Minister calls his or her colleagues thieves, looters, brokers and commission agents. And when they come into the House, they express regret. They think that by expressing regret all their offences are forgiven; and those against whom the comments have been made also smile and make strategies about how to take advantage of this situation. Till today, in the last 20 years, our Parliament has not been disrupted over questions related to the poor, the youth, or Dalits. If on occasion it has been disrupted, then it was to protest against a massacre, and that too for just half an hour or an hour. How can someone pay obeisance to or worship such a Parliament and how can one consider it a temple of democracy? If this Parliament is not a temple of democracy, then has it become a den for people who promote corruption? A long time ago George Fernandes had said in one of his articles that this Parliament has become a den of thugs and frauds, and there was a lot of hullabaloo about it and it seemed as if a cerebral earthquake had come in the country. Whoever one saw could be seen criticising George Fernandes. But what after all, is the reality ?
We are not saying that there are criminals, rapists, thugs, looters, and brokers in Parliament. We are not saying that at all. If everyone in Parliament is an effigy of truth and honesty, then why does this Parliament never think or ponder over the problems of the country? Why doesn’t it make such laws, such amendments, through which the poverty of the people can be alleviated ? No MP in this Parliament knows that in the last 3 years 50 lakh jobs have been terminated. Why doesn’t any MP know what the termination of 50 lakh jobs means? Why was the Union Cabinet not worried about this, and why didn’t any MP put out his or her hand to collar the Union Cabinet? The question also arises here : why don’t MPs become worried by the shamelessness of the Planning Commission, by its paralysis? Why doesn’t the fear of the thought that 272 districts in our country are under the grip of Naxalites torment MPs ? Being under the grip of Naxalites means that in those 272 districts of the country, development has become either almost non-existent or totally non-existent.
If the people sitting in Parliament are not troubled by the pain of the people, then what can one say to them, what adjectives should one search for them, and what honourable words should one coin for them? Some words for such people in a village are considered distasteful and unparliamentary. That’s okay in a village, but for and about those entities sitting in Parliament, far removed from worries, engrossed in themselves, if something has to be said, then what can be said? Can someone coin some new parliamentary words for them and send them to us? We will publish them.
That Parliament which we viewed as a tool for change in this country, that very same Parliament has become the most vitriolic weapon for maintaining the status quo. Actually, it kills the very people who work for change. It murders those people who dream of a new society. It tries to oust those people from the mainstream in whose hearts there is pain for the poor. Does our Parliament want that the people should raise their voice against it? That it should be labelled as a Parliament that gives protection to opportunists? Now it is to be seen whether our MPs, the people who sit in Parliament are hurt or not by the pain of the poor, the deprived and destitute, and women. All these people have forgotten an evocative couplet by Kabir Dasji. Its powerful meaning cannot be fully captured in translation, but roughly, it means don’t extract sighs from the poor by tormenting them, because even iron is reduced to ashes and naught by the air from a leather bellows that fans the flames. But our Parliament, our MPs, our Government, our Opposition parties seem to be in competition with one another to extract sighs of despair from the poor. Come, the time has arrived to see whether in this competition the people or our MPs will win, our Parliament or our Government and the Opposition parties will win.