Rajya Sabha ruckus: Congress must rise above petty politics to let House address miseries of people

Rajya Sabha witnessed a blatant case of irreverence to constitutional morality by senior Congressmen Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma on Friday when they along with other Congress MPs disrupted the proceedings of the House several times on a ground as flimsy as losing of Congress MLAs to the BJP in Gujarat.

 Rajya Sabha ruckus: Congress must rise above petty politics to let House address miseries of people

Representational image. PTI

The episode wiped out an entire day’s proceeding of the House by keeping Rajya Sabha embroiled in a rather needless, misplaced and hysteric ruckus that cost the nation dearly in terms of both time and money.

It is to be noted that the episode took place at a time when two of the states of the nation — Gujarat and Assam — are being ravaged by devastating floods rendering lakhs of people food and shelter less. In such an hour of crisis, the nation expects its public representatives to ensure that the attention, time and resources of Parliament are directed towards mitigating the immediate sufferings of the people.

As per a government estimate, which the NDTV reported, the Parliament conducts its session only for 80 days in a year. Each minute of these sessions cost the exchequer a hefty sum of Rs 2.5 lakh.

The pandemonium on Friday resulted in a huge waste of these resources of the Upper House which is nothing but open display of brutal power politics. This is certainly a case of ruthless moral offence through the eyes of lakhs of hapless flood victims spread across Assam and Gujarat.

Prior to the Friday episode, Congress MP from Assam, Ripun Bora showed the zest to speak on the issue of devastating floods in the state. But Rajya Sabha was so pressed with time, that he could hardly be allowed to speak for 10 minutes by the Speaker. In his brief speech, he mentioned that more than 26 lakh people were marooned in the floods and more than 80 people lost their lives.

A Times of India report said that more than 1 lakh people had to be evacuated in Gujarat during the unprecedented flood witnessed by the state.

In the face of such grave situations prevailing in both the states and the Parliament being so pressed with time, was it not a moral responsibility of the MPs to be judicious in spending the time of the House to facilitate more questions on the sufferings and miseries of the hapless flood-affected people? Doesn't deviating from this responsibility tantamount to denying them justice which is also a moral principle held so dear by the Constitution of India?

In a country like India where the citizen’s ‘Right to recall’ is not provided for in the Constitution, the moral principles of the Constitution remain the guiding light for one and all.

Ashok Agarwal, an advocate of Delhi High Court, who fought numerous Public Interest Litigations related to the constitutional and fundamental rights of the citizens, told Firstpost that indeed there are some grey areas in the Indian Constitution. But in such areas, the moral principles hailed by the Constitution provides the direction.

"There is no provision for any legal remedy to the citizen in the Constitution if the public representative wastes time and resources of the House or fails to fulfil his responsibilities as a representative," says the lawyer and activist.

"But it does not mean that the Constitution allows the public representatives to throw away their duties and responsibilities. Rather, the moral principles of justice and equality prohibit them from doing so," he said.

Agarwal also said that the Constitution expects the public representatives to fulfil their responsibilities under the light of the moral principles of justice and equality or the constitutional morality.

Friday's episode in the Rajya Sabha proved the Congress MPs utter irreverence to these axioms.

The ruckus in the House began after Sharma raised the issue of his party losing MLAs to the saffron party. Azad taking the cue of the issue accused the BJP of kidnapping and hijacking MLAs to win the Rajya Sabha election. He also alleged involvement of Gujarat Police officials in ‘abduction’ of the MLAs.

The plain submission of the Deputy Speaker PJ Kurien who was in the Chair at that time was that the House has cannot do anything about such matters as these are the issues to be addressed by the Election Commission of India and the police. However, the Congress MPs did not pay any heed to Kurien's words and instead sought a ridiculous directive to the poll panel as a precondition to allowing the House to function smoothly.

Upon refusal by the Chair to entertain such a request, the Congress MPs created such an uproar ultimately resulting in a washout.

The chaos in the Rajya Sabha also left many of the private member’s bill including the one to declare Pakistan a terror sponsor state, raised by MP Rajiv Chandrashekhar undiscussed.

In absence of any sound rationality, the chaos initiated by the Congress MPs seemed to have been intended to appease the party high command, which is perturbed at this moment with the apprehension of failing to get Ahmed Patel re-elected from Gujarat Assembly after losing MLAs to BJP. Patel, the third most powerful person after Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in Congress, is in a precarious position as a candidate for the Rajya Sabha election to be held in August after the Congress lost six of its MLAs to the BJP due to defection.

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Updated Date: Jul 29, 2017 21:37:31 IST