Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pepper Spray not the worst thing to happen...

The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference. 

You accuse the BJP of spreading poison. And then you host lunch and dinner to them to split Andhra Pradesh”.
This is not some random Opposition leader blurting out accusations on the TV. The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh (who belongs to the Congress) posed this question directly to the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi. But this won’t be newsy enough for English TV channels that claim to be “national” channels. This comment came a couple of hours after the Andhra Pradesh Reorganiration Bill was tabled in the Lok Sabha.
The Press advisor to the Prime Minister, Pankaj Pachauri, has a special liking towards graphs and charts. Yesterday, he tweeted about one more chart, sourced form HT. In the chart, he reminded us that four years back, another Winter Session was lost because of the Telangana issue! In every Parliament Session, this issue has resulted in loss of work days. Two Sessions have been nearly wiped out because members of Parliament primarily belonging to the Congress (remember 33/42 MPs from AP are from Congress) have trooped into the well of the House; shouted slogans; and have disrupted proceedings. What does the Congress do? It allowed this to proceed for some time; and then in one session suspended their own MPs from the house. And yesterday again, they had to suspend their own MPs from the Lok Sabha! The tragedy and disaster that we are witnessing now is the sole responsibility of the high command of the Congress party and no one else. Even their own party members are saying this – perhaps this kind of event never happened in the history of the country.
Yesterday on Rediff and today in the regional newspaper Eenadu, two articles were published. These articles were basically interview given by an MP and a Union Minister explaining how they planned to stop the MPs from Seemandhra from approaching both the Speaker and the Home Minister. He proudly explains that 18 MPs meticulously planned this operation, and made sure that the Bill is introduced before the MPs get a whiff of it. The plan, according to reports, was this:
1. Normally, at 12 pm, papers are first laid onto the table of the House. Since there was a notice for No-Confidence Motion, the Speaker had to make a statement on it. All this would generally take about 10-15 minutes.
2. The Parliament Affairs Minister apparently requested the Speaker to ignore all this procedure and allow for the direct introduction of the Bill – this will take the Seemandhra MPs by surprise.
3. Meanwhile, 18 MPs will act as a “security ring” to the Home Minister and Speaker – they will prevent the Seemandhra MPs from approaching these chairs to tear the paper etc.
4. While these 18 MPs engaged the Seemandhra MPs, Sushilkumar Shinde was able to successfully able to introduce the Bill in the House!
It is amidst this scuffle that Lagadapati Rajgopal used a pepper spray. He claims he used it for self defence. Others claim that he used it to ensure the Bill is not introduced. Abominable as much as this action is, please look at the events in their totality. Everyone screamed – murder of democracy; new lows for democracy etc. There is no denying that it is a new low. But what about the manner in which the Bill was even introduced in the House? The Union Minister also proudly claimed that they anticipated a lot of things – that a gas like material might be released; that MPs might take out a blade and attempt suicide etc. It has come down to such depths – under the reign of Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. Incidentally, both of them were not in the Lok Sabha on February 13 when the scuffle happened. Using MPs as bouncers? Look at the below picture (sourced from Eenadu and shown on all channels on February 13), they did not hesitate from using women MPs (Vijayashanti) as a shield to the Speaker – which Government plans such abominable things?
Suspending MPs will not resolve Telangana tangle
Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Kamal Nath, instead of being mature, almost immediately spoke to the Press and gave credence to rumours that he heard of knifes and gas in the Lok Sabha. Why the hurry to spread this panic and rumour? Could he not have observed restraint and spoken only after getting confirmation? The TDP MP accused of wielding a knife said that he only had a mike in his hand – what was the urgency with which Kamal Nath had to spread this rumour?

Suspending MPs will not resolve the Telangana tangle. On Wednesday, even Union Ministers trooped into the well of the House. There is no guarantee that they will not troop into the well on Tuesday too, when the Bill comes up for discussion. And then there is the daily disruption in Rajya Sabha too – no action has been taken yet on the MPs on this. The key question to ask is this – why was it allowed to come to this State? Why are MPs given such a free hand in disrupting proceedings? Why can’t presiding officers act in a more stringent manner? Why can’t the ruling party, the Congress, which has the responsibility of ensuring the functioning of Parliament encourage their own MP to disrupt the House?
I repeat again – this nuance is very very important. One can be pro-bifurcation and be totally against this version of the reorganisation bill. Demanding for equal justice to both regions does NOT amount to opposing the formation of Telangana State.The Congress, most supporters of Telangana and of course the “national” media refuse to understand this nuance.
There is a controversy about the tabling too – Opposition parties-led by the BJP claim that they did not even know if this Bill was being introduced. The agenda that was tabled before them did not list the AP Reorganisation Bill. Only after the Bill was tabled did they receive an agenda paper at 2 pm, did they come to know that the AP Reorganisation Bill will be tabled at 12 pm that same day! But then, we are clutching at straws here. This transgression is a minor one compared to the bigger transgressions this UPA Government-led by Sonia Gandhi has committed. This is merely procedural; an insult to the established procedures but when did UPA ever care for this? Don’t the MPs atleast deserve to know that a Bill is being introduced? We don’t even know if the MPs even have a copy of the Bill in their hands. Is this how you want to split a State? Amidst such acrimony? Throwing all norms to the winds? Remember this – Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have never communicated with the people of the State in the past four years – this very State that gave them 33/42 MPs.
The suspension of the MPs means nothing. We haven’t seen the end of this yet – next week promises to be even more tragic than this one. Though the spraying of pepper was not the only distressing event that happened. It’s important for us to remember that too.


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