The 'new' Parliamenttext_fields
In the 75-year history of independent India, Parliament has borne witness to myriad inappropriate and unparliamentary behaviours. But, never before has the institution that symbolises democracy, been polluted by such offensive language and slurs raw and loud. Now that too has happened in this ‘Amrit kaal’. The remarks laden with communal hatred, which even the undesirables would be reluctant to utter, came from the ranks of those who brag about the culture of Arsha Bharat, in front of the cameras, during the inaugural session of the proceedings in the new Parliament building. And the one who made history with his hate speech is BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri. He used offensive words such as ‘extremist’ and ‘terrorist’ against his parliamentary colleague BSP MP Danish Ali and also insulted him by using anti-Muslim slurs. “Throw this ‘mullah’ out”, he said.
During his speech, Bidhuri said that some people wanted Prime Minister Modi to die like a dog. Danish Ali intervened asking Bidhuri why he was saying that about the honourable Prime Minister. This was the provocation for Bidhuri hurling slurs against Danish Ali. Bidhuri not only showered insults but also made communal slurs against his fellow member. For his ‘performance’ that included contempt towards the House, communal hatred, character assassination and use of unparliamentary language, Bidhuri received only a warning from the Speaker. His comments were expunged from the records as well. When the opposition MPs protested, the Deputy Leader of the Lok Sabha and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh apologised immediately. Although the Speaker tried to put an end to the issue by warning Bidhuri of “strict action” if such behaviour happened again, a few opposition MPs have moved privilege motions against Bidhuri. Danish Ali has written to Speaker Om Birla against Bidhuri. Kodikunnil Suresh who was in the chair when the incident happened, also wrote to the Speaker demanding immediate action including suspension of Bidhuri over the communal slurs he used against Danish Ali.
But the problem is not limited to one Bidhuri. Inappropriate conduct that is incongruent with the values of the House or a civilised society, has now become widespread in both Parliament and the administrative spheres. A video also shows union Ministers Harsh Vardhan and Ravi Shankar Prasad laughing from behind when Ramesh Bidhuri was hurling communal insults against his parliamentary colleague. There might also be more of such offensive sneering which the camera has not captured. The fact that the ‘mother of all democracies’ has been degraded to such low levels, reveals the depth of the moral decay India has plunged into. Bidhuri had engaged in offensive speech while in the House earlier as well. There are many like him. Not only do those, who publicly called for violence and used communal calumny, go unpunished and continue to be members of Parliament, but they are also being rewarded in some way. It has been pointed out several times that many including the Prime Minister ‘follow’ these people on social media. If such attackers and those spewing hatred go on a wild spree at the ‘shrine of people’s democracy’, then the fault is not theirs alone, but of those at the forefront who encourage and create the circumstances for it.
Our Parliament should represent democracy, not alleys filled with violence and hatred. If communal hatred has not only vanquished attire, food, classrooms and train journeys but also the Parliament, then it is not a disease that could be treated and cured with mere disciplinary action (if there is such a thing). The issue will also not be resolved if the privileges committee of the House take the necessary action whenever convenient. The culture of hate is the fundamental ailment that has afflicted both the overly enthusiastic members and the indifferent leadership equally. This culture that has permeated our administrative systems, political stances and personal relationships, poses a challenge to the nation. Since Bidhuri’s comments and the silence of the governing and parliamentary leadership speak the same language of hatred, it is pointless to criticise just one side. To understand the depths to which the current political situation has dragged the nation, one should observe not only the member who spews hatred but also those who laugh when hearing such comments. The Prime Minister while addressing the Lok Sabha in the new Parliament building had said that the “behaviours of the Members in the House will be one of the factors that determine if they will be part of the ruling dispensation or the opposition”; the country is watching the behaviour displayed by a member of his party at the same place.