Source: News Bharati English18 Jul 2016 16:57:35

Prakash Khandekar

The monsoon session of the Parliament that started from Monday (July 18, 2016) is slated to be stormy yet again with the opposition parties gearing to take the government to task on various issues. There is no doubt that it will witness, yet again, unruly scenarios of walkouts, sloganeering and rushing to the well of the House (Rajya Sabha or Lok Sabha), a common phenomenon for past few years. 

In fact, it has become a regular feature to disrupt the working of the Parliament by the opposition party/parties. Earlier, the BJP led NDA leaders did it and today, it is the Congress, since it went to opposition benches in 2014, that is leading the charge. The Congress, no matter how hoarse it cried during its UPA tenure, is resorting to the same steps that the BJP resorted to while in opposition before 2014. But for Congress, it is more like recalling its old practice, something that can easily be termed as a ‘political gift’ by Iron Lady Indira Gandhi, a strongest of the political icon of India even today.

For the benefit of the young readers, who might not have heard of terms such as ‘Syndicate’ or ‘Young Turks’, a small recap would do well to know the political exigency that prompted Gandhi, the former Prime Minister, to take this measure. She had taken over as the Prime Minister in 1966-67 after the death of Lal Bahadur Shashtri when she faced a huge opposition from within the party. Congress bigwigs such as Morarji Desai, SK Patil, Atulya Ghose and Nijalingappa among others had formed a group – more popularly called as ‘Syndicate’ that never accepted Indira Gandhi’s leadership, a member of the Nehru family. Gandhi was keen on winning this intra-party fighting for supremacy by overpowering, nay liquidating, members of the Syndicate.

With hidden understanding and directives, in her early days as Prime Minister, Gandhi formed a group of young Congressmen, all with socialist ideology, from all corners of India. Their only job was to harass a speaker from among the Syndicate and disrupt the functioning of Parliament and sometimes even outside the Parliament at various public forums. These young Congressmen – later given the moniker of ‘Young Turks’ by a journalist – included Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi, Chandra Shekhar, Mohan Dharia, Janardhan Poojari, Vyayalar Ravi, Tarkeshwari Sinha, Krishna Kant, Nandini Satpathy and Ambika Soni, among others. These Young Turks would create a ruckus, hoot out the MPs even if the speaker was a Congressman but a member of the Syndicate. Thus gradually Gandhi achieved what she intended to and wiped out the existence of the ‘Old Guards’ of Congress.

This manner of ‘obstructing the process in the Parliament’ helped to consolidate the authoritarian rule’ Gandhi became famous for. However, for last almost two decade, the opposition parties, whichever it is, have been regularly obstructing one disturbing the political functioning of Parliament without allowing any meaningful and sincere discussions on any matter of public interest.

Incidentally, Mohan Dharia, one of the ‘Young Turks’ mentioned in his 1978 published book ‘Safar – My Political Journey 1940-1975’ how during his visit to Germany as MP, he attended the German Parliament and witnessed free movement of photographers and live telecast of proceedings on German television. He then wished that if Indian Parliament made such arrangement, then perhaps some MPs may feel obliged to attend the Parliament with sincerity and do their homework before speaking. But Dharia, a prominent member of the ‘Young Turks’, would have been ashamed to see the manner in which the Parliament is disrupted day in and day out, but possibly happy that he is no longer part of such a ruckus that Parliament has become.

As it is, there are very few occasions when a well commanded and studied speech is delivered in Parliament, something which was pretty common in the earlier years. Not just the party members of the respective speaker but the entire Parliament would listen with rapt attention to every word spoken by veteran Parliamentarians such as Ram Manohar Lohia, Barrister Nath Pai, HV Kamat, VN Gadgil and Madhu Dandavate.

Possibly this kind of unruly behaviour by Parliamentarians and an ability or willingness to fulfil their expectations is the biggest reason why young Indians are least bothered about what goes on in Parliament or at times, disinclined to even go out and vote on the election day.

It is high time that each political party did some introspection and considered what can be the correct stance and the right manner for a smooth functioning of Parliament. The honourable MPs need to understand Parliament is not a place for street fights but a dignified platform to seriously issues that bear a huge impact on the policy making.  

Needless to add, young MPs should take the lead to change the course of action and harp upon or should urge for constructive discussions in Parliament to ensure the healthy atmosphere in the house befitting the more than 60 years of democratic system we adopted.  It would be very relevant to recall what Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar had said during the discussion in the Constituent Assembly:

“However good a Constitution may be, if those who are implementing it are not good, it will prove to be bad. However bad a Constitution may be, if those implementing it are good, it will prove to be good.”

(The author is a retired banker and a trained lawyer, has keen interest in politics and economic affairs, the two most essentials that run India. He can be reached at [email protected]).