It is our privilege, sirs.

The sabhas of Chennai may be reverberating to the lilting tunes of scores of musicians, but the noises emanating from the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in distant Delhi is certainly not music to our ears. The din from those two ‘hollow’ed precincts has over the last few days attained unprecedented decibel levels literally drowning every other sound byte, voices of reason included. You need not have your ears close to the walls of the Parliament building to realise that ours is a sound democracy; the cacophony reaches out to you and hits you between the eyes.

At the risk of inviting a breach of privilege charge, it requires to be stated that the two Houses have long ago been converted into veritable mad-houses. But what is of concern is the impunity with which ‘our’ privilege as citizens and voters, is being violated whenever the legislatures assemble. After all it is ‘we’ who sent them there, to serve ‘us’ and if they don’t do it, then ‘we’, as their masters should have every right to pull them up.

It is really we who need to be protected from the assault on our rights by these characters. Instead if these ‘servants’ claim that they can indulge in any act of coercion or violence, and still remain immune to punishments and accountability, it is time we dispense with that flimsy garb of privilege that unsuccessfully hides their squalid behaviour.

The continuing impasse in Parliament, which has now become a routine, surely warrants lifting of that thin veil of privilege for what is at stake is the daily bread of the nation. How can a nation survive if its nucleus itself turns rotten? Every successive session seems to better the earlier one in setting new lows of Parliamentary behaviour. There was a time when certain words and deeds of MPs were deemed unparliamentary.

Today, all that has become accepted parliamentary norms with booing, bellowing and bullying becoming perfectly parliamentary. A young viewer of the Lok Sabha proceedings might even conclude that what is happening is indeed the way things should be really happening.

Such is the consistency and conviction demonstrated by most of our members in all sessions that a normal, peaceful day is even dubbed by the media as ‘dull proceedings’. A session without bedlam is as dour as a Tendulkar knock without the fireworks. But while the latter lifts our spirits high, the former gives us a sinking feeling. And both have been consistent.

Are the strident tones of our MPs for the uplift of mankind? Pooh! Are these elected eminences bellowing for the progress of the nation? Nonsense! Or are these parasites raising their voices for the pathetic plight of the common man who was duped into voting them in? Never.

Earlier, there used to be, at least, some pretensions of do-gooding, but all that has evaporated, with our MPs baring their fangs in gangs or shall we say, Morchas, to ensure physically, that nothing is transacted. Their idea is just to stall proceedings, for the heck of it, and of course, to score points over their political opponents. With rabble rousers ruling the roost, issues and their merits are irrelevant.

If a Bill has to be thwarted, it has to be, no matter, the method. And what best way to prevent a Bill from being tabled than by tearing up it and breaking the table? Elementary, Dr Watson! Appears to be bad times for Bills, be it Clinton or Women’s. An introduction of a legislation is by itself an achievement going by current trends, for it has to first reach the table by escaping the paws of our members.

Then of course, there is the approval which is another herculean task, given the arithmetic of the ‘Sabha’ which has several performers dancing to different tunes and all offbeat. Even if the floor managers ensure a consensus, nothing can be taken for granted. A single member from the ruling combine taking a stroll for a smoke or even to relieve himself may bring the government down by his innocuous act.

Those in the treasury benches will truly have to sit tight! The Opposition MPs for their part love to storm the well of the House at the slightest provocation, though we ourselves would have relished pushing them into it, outside Parliament. The Speaker, who himself is a product of an unseemly parliamentary coup, is helpless and even defenceless, for there is little this umpire could do if all sides choose to play foul. And on this fragile facade rests the fate of the nation.

To talk of governance in this chaotic scenario is most wishful and rather funny. To expect our members, who cannot even govern their own behavior, to run the country is indeed a tall order. Really, it looks as if the country is best governed when Parliament is not in session.

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Jawahar T R