Parliamentary democracy is poorer due to the constant confrontation between the ruling and the Opposition parties. Unless both sides draw some red lines, and commit themselves not to breach them, the democratic process will remain hostage to wasteful hostility and tensions. The case in point is the refusal of the Congress Party to hear the Prime Minister speak in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
Modi was speaking on the customary motion of thanks to the President for his address to the joint session of Parliament when a group of Congress MPs kept on shouting slogans in an effort to drown his speech in the din. Thanks to the live telecast of the proceedings by the Lok Sabha TV, people were able to hear the PM clearly, though they could also hear in the background ugly sloganeering by the Congress MPs. This should have been avoided, especially when both Rahul and Sonia Gandhi were present in the Lok Sabha all through the PM’s speech.
The upshot of this awful display of bad parliamentary behaviour was that immediately after Modi’s speech when the Congress member, Veerappa Moilly, rose to speak, the treasury benches returned the compliment, barracking him all through. On Thursday, when the former finance minister P Chidambaram rose to speak on the budget in the Rajya Sabha, the BJP backbenchers created a loud din in order to drown his voice in the noise. The short point is that the action-reaction syndrome inside the House does not make for good parliamentary practice. Isn’t it time the newly-installed Congress President showed some good sense and ordered his bonded members to show some respect to the other side so that they themselves can receive the same from the treasury benches? You cannot clap with one hand, can you? Do draw some red lines, please.