Far from the madding House

Parliament’s summer session evaporated in the Lokpal heat. The monsoon session was washed away in the FDI flood. The winter session almost stands frozen on the same count now. Obviously, any thaw will only lead to the next stalemate. Indeed, seasons may change but MPs cutting across parties remain unanimous and steadfast in their resolve to keep Parli in permanent coma.

Outside this cosy island cocooned in rounded walls, massive fires are raging. This proud nuclear nation is fast turning into the mosquito capital of the world with Dengue and a range of viral infections running riot amidst the populace. But Parliamentarians remain immune in those sterile Houses. Debt and drought, the twin killers of the tillers, are driving farmers by the droves to death, but our MPs remain deaf to their dying cries, alive instead only to their own din. A dire power crisis threatens to plunge whole States into darkness, but the eyes and lives of this privileged class is alight and shining bright with political power. Inflation is burning huge holes in citizens’ pockets, but the elected rep is busy lining his own pocket with vulgar sitting fees and plum perks for just standing and shouting. In fact, thanks to economic woes and corruption, the country itself is going broke, but this chosen class has time only for breaking mikes and desks and of course, breaking into the public treasury.

In short, Parli-purportedly for, of and by the people-actually has nothing to do with the people, revelling instead in noisy oblivion, away from the mute masses! The disconnect is even more damning when we consider the choice between a stalled Parli and a happening one. Either way, the people’s plight is never in the reckoning. While a dysfunctional House makes for a sickening spectacle, a smooth sail scenario seems wholly suspicious. With disparate parties desperately vying for the power pie, Parli is the prime playground for all their political games. The ruckus and the run-ins that the MPs unleash are all tactics to advance private agendas that figure neither in their public statements nor in their manifestos. Logically, any end to a logjam means that a shady deal has been struck. The familiar Parli phrase, ‘transacting business’ is a perfect fit, though in a perverted way.

And so it is that, suddenly, and of course, just briefly, Parli decorum and national interest shine forth on their facial monitors! Political platitudes make a strong comeback. Just look at the current scenes on show vis-a-vis retail FDI which looks a certainty. To the Cong, for whom Italy, Sweden and Swiss are just a stone’s throw, FDI is a natural avenue for the first family to feed its growing hunger. The principal ‘opposition’ BJP wants a vote but without the Government being voted out so that it has the mortification of a debate and the excuse of helplessness, not to speak of avoiding a poll it is in no position to fight. Estranged Mamata wants to hurt but is afraid to strike for fear of a backlash. The Left fumes at anything foreign, barring Marx and Chinese dumping. Mulayam and Maya, neck deep now in personal bargains, will likely be FDI-neutral. Ally DMK’s K played the comic cameo through a chaste rational rile about hating the ‘communal’ BJP more than he did the anti-people FDI! The House is now in fine fettle even as people are aghast at the petty posturings of political pots and kettles!

Parliament, in its ivory tower isolation, is a mockery of the voters who elect it and the Constitution that sanctions it. We the people no longer relate even remotely to the institution that determines and dictates our fate or to the individuals who define, rather defile, it. From being intimidating and entertaining, Parli proceedings are now a hollow charade. Only that we inflict this joke on ourselves at great expense and effort. Really, a people’s no-trust move on Parli as a whole would win with all ayes! A true privilege, indeed, for this well insulated lot.

Those who died defending this Parli against Afzal Guru and Co must be turning in their graves. Not because A.Guru is still alive, but because the institution they sacrificed their lives for is dead!

e-mail the writer at [email protected]