As we were tracking the updates on the trust vote for E Palaniswami's government in Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, dramatic headlines flashed on the television screens, on how the southern Indian state's Assembly has "shamed" the people's mandate. News channels were quick to proclaim that how Tamil Nadu legislators has set a new low in the history of democracy as visuals of DMK MLAs destroying the furniture inside the Assembly played out.
While the absurdity of the scene compelled us to reflect at the mirthless humour that Assembly proceedings have become, they reminded us that the history of our democracy is replete with such examples. The bitterness and the animosity amid legislators have so often set new benchmarks of absurdity that it doesn't manage to stir the same outrage. From shoe hurling to verbal abuse, to even attacking a woman parliamentarian, we have seen it all in the world's largest democracy that takes pride in following a federal structure.
Here is a throwback on some of the most bizarre moments played out in the legislative assemblies across the nation.
Tamil Nadu, 1989
The incident bore uncanny resemblance to the violence that ensued in the same House in 1989, shortly after AIADMK supremo MG Ramachandran passed away. The AIADMK was suffering a virtual split after its leader's death, not much unlike today, only the protagonists were different. While MGR's wife Janaki Ramachandran was the chief minister then and was due to prove her majority, Jayalalithaa stood in Panneerselvam's shoes as she opposed Ramachandran's claim to the party and the late leader's legacy.
Ramachandran claimed to have the majority, but the Congress backtracked at the last moment. Following this, five Congress MLAs rebelled and announced their resignation which led to a free-for-all situation in the Assembly, with MLAs hurling whatever they could find at each other, according to The Wire.
Barbs were exchange in the House which soon turned violent, and the situation spiraled so much out of control that police had to lathicharge the legislators to restore order. Over 20 MLAs were injured in the entire charade and more than 200 microphones were broken.
Tamil Nadu, 1989
This perhaps does qualify to go down as the most shameful moment in an Assembly as no precedent stands till date when the modesty of a woman is outraged in a House. Jayalalithaa was the leader of Opposition, the first woman in Tamil Nadu Assembly to hold the position, and M Karunanidhi was the chief minister. The AIADMK leader had inherited the legacy of hatred that MGR and the DMK shared, but no one could have foreseen such animosity when a minister of the ruling party (DMK) would attempt to disrobe the Leader of Opposition, according to The News Minute.
The iconic image of Jayalalithaa holding her torn sari made headlines and till this day is imprinted on people's mind.
The Odisha Assembly stopped short of seeing one of the worst incidents to go down in the history of democracy as the Assembly staff's prompt action prevented an unruly incident. The Assembly was in chaos as the Opposition benches stormed the Well and gheraoed the Speaker on the issue of deteriorating law and order situation in the state, forcing Speaker Pradip Amat to adjourn the House twice. However, one of the Congress legislators, lost his cool in the din and picked up a chair which he tried to hurl at the Speaker's podium. However, the chair was snatched away from his hand within time and nobody got hurt in the incident, according to NDTV.
Lok Sabha, 2014
In February, 2014, two MPs had to be hospitalised after they were attacked with pepper spray by their colleagues, amid the ruckus that ensued over introduction of the Telangana Bill. A controversy had broken out over the status of the bill, which divided Andhra Pradesh into two states. Unprecedented din took over the House and a moment came, when Congress member, L Rajagopal, who was opposed to the state's division, sprayed pepper over members supporting the bill, as reported in The Times of India. In the then Speaker, Meira Kumar's words, this will be remembered as "a blot" on the country's democracy.
The last session before the Assembly elections will be remembered for an unprecedented way of protest manifested by Congress legislators. After the party's no confidence motion was defeated in the House, several Congress MLAs staged a two-night sit-in on the floor of the Assembly. When the session began the next day, amid the din someone alleged that a caste remark was hurled at a Congress MLA following which the Opposition party hurled a shoe at the treasury benches. The Congress legislators then hurled torn papers and microphones at the Speaker, while continuing to raise slogans alleging that the Chair was biased against them, according to The Hindustan Times.
The Tripura Assembly witnessed one of the most bizarre scenes during the House proceedings as a TMC legislator ran away with the Speaker's mace, stalling legislative business.
The incident occurred while the members were debating heatedly about the alleged "womanising" issue involving ruling CPM leaders when all of a sudden, TMC MLA Sudip Roy Barman seized the Speaker's mace and ran away with it outside the house abruptly putting a halt to the proceedings.
Needless to point out, that the video went viral on social media and once again, the proceedings of a House that are conducted to carry out governance became the butt of all jokes, and for good reasons.
Published Date: Feb 18, 2017 07:27 pm | Updated Date: Feb 18, 2017 07:47 pm