DEMOCRACY GETS COAT OF PEPPER SPRAY

parliament– V.N. Balakrishna | February 17, 2014

Ahmedabad : If you’re going through hell, keep going seems to be the Congress strategy in introducing slyly the Telangana bill which seeks to split Andhra Pradesh into two halves.

All hell broke loose in Lok Sabha last Thursday when expelled Congress MP Lagadapati Rajagopal used pepper spray during the ruckus that followed over the introduction of the bill.

It was presumed the outgoing UPA government would, before calling it quits, would pass only the interim railway and general budgets as Vote on Account (Parliament’s approval for meeting the estimated expenditure for 3-4 months until new government is elected) without taking up contentious issues. But given the nature of divisive politics being played by all parties, the Congress could not help tossing the T-Bill into Lok Sabha without anyone being wiser and then claiming the bill as introduced. The BJP leader Sushma Swaraj vehemently denied any bill, let alone a T-Bill, being introduced during the pandemonium. Both Swaraj and senior BJP leader LK Advani had a sharp exchange with Speaker Meira Kumar at her Chamber when the latter asked whether Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had indeed introduced the Bill.

Pepper spray, and hooliganism seen over the years in both Houses, is the culmination of a sustained divisive caste and secular politics leading to gradual criminalization of Indian Parliament. Propagation of vote bank politics overrides all consideration of national well-being and the sacred hall of Parliament has now turned into a safe haven for money launderers, rapists, murderers and downright crooks. With sanctity of Parliament gone the damage to institutions too has become irreversible. Today country stands divided as never before on basis of class, caste and religion.

Though Parliament was pepper-sprayed and made to sound as a victim of political skullduggery, as the Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar claimed, it must share a large portion of the blame for creating equal opportunity for anti-social elements when it was supposed to do it for the deprived sections.

How does Lok Sabha Speaker suspending 16 unruly Seemandhra MPs under Rule 374 (A) see a solution to the problem which was created by the Centre itself? Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi claimed his party had “bitten the bullet” by tabling the T-Bill. BJP now refusing to accept that claim has clearly backtracked from its earlier commitment of supporting T-Bill with certain provisos. With BJP blaming the Congress’ for in-House fiasco the politics of division could not have been murkier.

The Congress could take up the T-bill for discussion in a day or two before the current session ends on February 21. Can UPA pass the T-Bill by hook or crook even in the absence of the 16 suspended MPs with the BJP already crying foul? If it does rush the Bill through a voice vote the Congress could be hoisted by its own petard.

Chances of Telangana politics benefitting the Congress post-2014 similar to Indira Gandhi’s comeback in 1980 seem slim even if a Janata Party fiasco in the next NDA is re-enacted. Indira Gandhi had conveyed a sense of unity that brought her hefty 353 seats notwithstanding emergency excesses. Today Andhra Pradesh poses a bigger challenge for nation’s unity and integrity in the creation of a Telangana monster out of sheer political expediency.

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