For two weeks now, the people of India have been held at ransom by their elected leaders in both Houses of Parliament. Whatever the protests or reasons – real and imagined – for not going to work, the fact is that these members (545 in the Lok Sabha and 245 in the Rajya Sabha) flew in for free to attend the session. They also got Rs 2,000 per day during the session for merely signing their names.
If they renege on their duty and refuse to honour their commitment and trivialise governance, then there have to be consequences. After all, if the public sector dares to protest or the private sector puts down its tools, the government sees it as a hostile resistance and an immediate cause and effect comes into play.
People are suspended, sacked, their pay docked because it is seen as detrimental to the commonwealth. What could be more damaging than a representation that willfully refuses to work and makes a joke of the responsibility vested in it, singly and collectively?
They did this in 2016 and now they are doing it again. And they are not even doing it off their own bat. They are taking money from the public for not doing their job. That displays a total lack of propriety. You fly in without spending a rupee, you live free, you have a laundry allowance of Rs 25,000 per month (clearly insufficient to clean the stains on their conscience but arguably more than the earnings of 90 percent of Indians) and you take money every day for disrupting the proceedings.
This is seen as democracy at work. But it can also be seen as dishonest earnings. Would our paymasters not dock our pay if we went on strike or goofed off or even take us off the roster if we failed to produce day after day?
So, perhaps, there is a need for the people to demand a review of the relationship between themselves and the people they elect. First off, the five-year tenure should not be sacrosanct. There should be interim assessments and if the people of a certain constituency are not happy with the incumbent, he should be placed on probation followed by three warnings given in writing and then an expulsion. Why should they be under different rules?
We must find a way out of this mess. We cannot keep accepting the premise that it is fine to play bagatelle with your duty and just enjoy yourself. We shrug and write it off as 'normal for the day's agenda to be 'washed out'. What do you expect, they are politicians after all. In fact, the day work is actually done, this rare moment is enshrined as news.
Unless these 700-odd privileged members are made accountable, things will not change. We have members who are so indifferent they do not even attend the House, only suck up the perks. Perhaps the one initial step would be to hurt them in their pockets.
Block all these financial rights because they have now become wrongs. No salary, no travel allowance, let them fork out cash for an air trip in business class. If Parliament is frozen or disrupted, pay for your stay... no freebies allowed. No subsidised meals, board or lodging. Fend for yourself. See how soon they come to their senses.
On Thursday, they worked for 15 minutes. That’s truly taking the nation to the cleaners.
Updated Date: Mar 22, 2018 15:40 PM