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Legislators should remember: people are watching

Kerala Assembly ruckus

The Kerala government has 'guillotined' the assembly to overcome the protests raised by the opposition. All the bills to be introduced in the remaining eight days were passed without any discussion and the House adjourned indefinitely. What will be the key takeaway for which the eighth session of the 15th Kerala Legislative Assembly will be known? It was a fruitless legislative session that went haywire with noise. It earned a bad name of having ruled out all possibilities of mutual understanding because of the poverty of ideas and obduracy of our political leaders. This is happening at a time when at the national level it has become routine to get all bills of decisive import passed without any debate. But it is those who oppose this and call to strive for a dawn of enjoying the voice of the other as music that indulge in mutual wrangling in the house. And in the process, the opposition's dissenting views on issues go unregistered, the people's apprehensions get no hearing, when the finance bill that imposes a tax burden of Rs 4000 Cr and a Public Health Bill containing controversial provisions are passed with no discussion whatsoever. How efficiently the rulers, be it in parliament or state assemblies, who have to be committed to the public, use the possibilities of democracy only to overcome their own dilemmas! Like in the Lok Sabha, what was in display in the Kerala assembly the other day was nothing but the destruction of democracy.

Also read: Congress-led opposition protests in Kerala Assembly continue

What contribution do such legislative sessions, which put a heavy burden on the exchequer, make to the people? During the French Revolution, guillotines were a progressive tool celebrated by revolutionaries in the sense that they could be used for beheading without much pain. Are our legislatures and parliaments modern-day guillotines that painlessly behead democracy? The disgusting farcical political drama staged in the sanctuaries of democracy lead to the painful answer of 'yes'. It is common for political differences to roil gatherings. Both the ruling party and the opposition will prepare for the assembly meetings, ready to use strategies and counter-strategies. But it should not be by trampling basic democratic decencies. Under no circumstances should the fundamental mission of the legislature be undermined.

Unfortunately, what has been unfolding in the Kerala Legislative Assembly for the past few days is nothing edifying and with much to be ashamed of. The untoward incidents in front of the Speaker's office, the hand-wringing, the protests by the opposition and the treasury bench's response to that, and the character assassinations carried out by both parties were extremely objectionable. It goes without saying that the Chief Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and the Speaker have completely failed to resolve them. Everyone had apparently a fear that compromise would be interpreted as failure. The result is that the mission and purpose of the Legislature have been made a farce. It is only that the exchequer or the wealth of the people that has been wasted in the name of democracy.

In his first days of the term as speaker, A.N. Shamseer earned the praise from all quarters for his conduct in the Assembly. But he was helpless in the face of the agitation that followed and the arguments raised by the ruling party including the Chief Minister. Informal efforts by the government and the Speaker's office to end the disruption of legislative proceedings were not successful. He also failed in taking the opposition into confidence and winning them over. If the Chief Minister had been willing to relax the decision taken by him in the all-party meeting, then the motion for indefinite dissolution of the Assembly through the guillotine would not have been necessary. The decision was that urgent notices of motion for calling attention could not be given permission as done before. With the opposition boycotting the Business Advisory Committee, the last chances of a consensus were also lost. Now, no one can fool the people by blaming each other and saying that the arrogance between the two groups after the assembly made reconciliation impossible. Because the ruckus of the ruling party and the opposition members ultimately made the assembly a farce. Democratic systems have been weakened. As the Speaker said in the Assembly, there is only one thing to remind the entire assembly. People are watching.

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TAGS:Kerala assembly ruckusKerala assemblyFinance BillPublic Health Billguillotine
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