As journalists who have constantly tracked, live-blogged and live-tweeted countless sessions of both the Houses of Parliament, we know that one of the best ways to see what absolute chaos looks like is to witness a Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha session.
Shouting, sloganeering, walkouts, mud-slinging, MPs storming the Well and frequent adjournments are such common sights in the Parliament that we journalists have unofficially accepted them as part of the Parliament proceedings. There have even been rare incidents of violence.
With such pandemonium and uproar taking place almost on a daily basis, it does not take much to figure out that the job of the person presiding over the proceedings of either House is an extremely tough one.
Whether it is Smriti Irani talking about cutting off her head if her claims are proven wrong or Rahul Gandhi alleging that the Lok Sabha Speaker is biased, presiding over Parliament proceedings is a painful task and everyone has their own way of dealing with it.
And now, either NDA's vice-presidential candidate Venkaiah Naidu or the Opposition's candidate Gopalkrishna Gandhi will get this job. Before we talk about them, let's take a look at how other leaders have dealt with the Parliament.
There is perhaps no person better than Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to teach you how to be calm and firm in extremely tense situations.
Her best quality as a Speaker has to be the calm determination with which she presides over the House. Out of all the people conducting House proceedings, Mahajan has remained the most unfazed by ruckus raised in the House.
For example, we have seen Mahajan conduct Lok Sabha proceedings calmly (well, as calmly as you can act in such a situation) even as one MP kept shouting 'We want special status!' in the House (over the demand for special status for Andhra Pradesh) continuously for at least an hour.
If that doesn't convince you of the fact that Mahajan can be unbelievably calm, consider the fact that Mahajan remained completely unnerved even when Samajwadi Party MP Akshay Yadav threw paper at her.
If there was ever a gamma ray burst heading towards the earth, it would be travelling so fast that you won't see it coming until it destroys everything on the planet.
Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari's temper is a lot like a gamma ray burst: You just won't see it coming.
A relatively calm Ansari has suddenly lost his temper many times in the Rajya Sabha. In fact, there was a time when Ansari got so angry with repeated disruptions that he proposed abolishing the Question Hour altogether, adjourned the House for half an hour and then walked away, leaving all the stunned MPs speechless and looking as if they had been hit by a — you guessed it — gamma ray burst.
Witnessing a temper so bad it can leave rowdy, shouting MPs speechless is always scary. For example, the way in which Ansari suspended a TMC MP for a day was so scary that while watching him do that, you'll feel like he's suspending you.
Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien is to Hamid Ansari what Bruce Banner is to The Hulk.... except for the fact that they are, in fact, two separate people. Honest.
If Ansari has a temper you do not want to mess with, Kurien has an approachable and often friendly attitude that sometimes makes him appear a bit passive in stressful situations.
When AIADMK MP A Navaneethakrishnan in Rajya Sabha started singing a song (out of all things) to discuss the grim situation in Jammu and Kashmir, Kurien cracked a witty and sarcastic joke about how the MP should, in fact, sing the entire song.
It's not like Kurien has not lost his temper. Unlike Ansari, however, whenever Kurien gets angry, you feel bad for him, not scared or taken aback.
Kurien is like that warm uncle who is helplessly confused about what he should do when the kids he has been asked to babysit start bickering and throwing tantrums.
We won't be surprised — judging from Kurien's pained expressions whenever the House is disrupted — if the thought "Why am I even here?" has entered his mind during some of these proceedings.
And in the confusion and chaos, Kurien expresses his anger in a spontaneous way which shows that he is a genuine person. For example, there was actually a time when Kurien blurted out "You shut up!" while trying to control a noisy House.
How can you not like a person, who — even when he gets angry — shouts, "It is unbecoming of you to stand up and do this! You are my friend! Don't do it!"
Even though Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai does not preside over the House as frequently as Sumitra Mahajan, he appears to be the second-most hassled (the most hassled being Kurien) person presiding over a House whenever pandemonium prevails.
And it's quite a disturbing fact that even Thambidurai has had papers thrown at him, at that time by RJD MP Pappu Yadav.
But the difference between the way Thambidurai handled the situation and the way in which Mahajan handled says a lot about the different ways leaders preside over the House.
"Baith jaiye, baith jaiye!"
Former Lok Sabha Speaker and now Opposition's presidential candidate Meira Kumar has said the above statement so many times that there is actually a song about it on YouTube.
Much like Mahajan, Kumar, during her time as Lok Sabha Speaker, had the rare quality of being relatively calm even when MPs stormed the Well of the House and began creating a ruckus there.
Irrespective of the situation in the Lok Sabha, Kumar's manner of talking — in which she enunciates every word clearly — never changed, whether she was angry or calm.
So what about the next vice-president?
It is difficult to say how Gandhi will preside over Rajya Sabha if he becomes the next vice-president. Even though he has always maintained a calm tone when giving speeches, all these speeches have been outside the Parliament.
And we all know that Parliament proceedings have the ability to make even the calmest person appear as dangerous as a gamma ray burst.
Naidu, on the other hand, has been an MP and a minister and has spoken several times in the Parliament.
And the most noticeable aspect about whenever Naidu has spoken in the Parliament is his ability to take sharp jibes at the Opposition. He has lost his cool in the Parliament, especially when the Opposition has disrupted the House.
Naidu also has the habit of being a bit too dramatic sometimes.
During his speech defending demonetisation in the Rajya Sabha, Naidu had compared the difficulties faced by people during the note ban to, of all things, child birth.
"As far as difficulties are concerned, child birth is not easy at all. But once the child is born, the mother's happiness knows no bound," he had said. He also talked about how demonetisation was a "mahayagna" and how Swachch Bharat Abhiyan was cleaning the "tann, mann, dhann" of people.
There was also that time when Naidu told an MP as he was leaving the Lok Sabha: "Walkout karke mera talkout mat karna please."
But of course, till now, Naidu had always been talking as a BJP leader. Despite our guess that he may turn out to be an intense and dramatic Rajya Sabha chairman if he wins the vice-presidential polls, we can never be sure how Naidu will change once he has to preside over one of the Houses of the chaos that is the Indian Parliament.
Published Date: Jul 19, 2017 06:24 AM | Updated Date: Jul 19, 2017 08:09 AM