The House of Bad News

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Late President KR Narayanan wanted blatant indiscipline by elected members to be treated as ‘infantile disorders’ or ‘measles of middle age’. Indiscipline by elected members has a long history worldwide, even inside British Parliament, often seen as the touchstone for parliamentary discipline. Winston Churchill stated in March 1931, “The House of Commons as a vehicle of the popular will has steadily declined in public repute... and I am deeply anxious that its walls shall not be undermined by slow decay or overthrown by violent battering-rams.”

Over the years, our Parliament and state Assemblies, in particular, have witnessed bedlam, extending to fisticuffs as well. But the use of pepper spray during the Telangana Bill proceedings in the Lok Sabha last week and the TV blackout this week have set the bar really low. The TDP’s CM Ramesh decided to do an encore in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, snatching papers from the secretary-general and physically pushing him in a scuffle and dislodging his spectacles.

Indecent conduct was also witnessed in the J&K Assembly, where a PDP member slapped a marshal who was trying to restrain him. In Uttar Pradesh, two RLD MLAs stripped to protest governmental inaction over a labour issue.