Sunday October 21, 2018
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Adjourned till noon: Episodes from the great Indian parliamentary circus

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Picture credit: thehindu.com
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By Sreyashi Mazumdar

Bizarreness and frivolity, these two words are hand in glove with our country’s parliamentarians’- the representatives of people who are supposed to behold responsibilities and wisdom, unlike the plebeians. Taking into consideration the opposition’s hammy protests in the recent past, and its vociferous attempt at being the soul vanguards of the poor, one might end up inferring the parliament as a circus wherein politicians take to every outrageous and horrid means to scuttle the expected decorum on the floor of the house.

Picture credit: indianexpress.com
Picture credit: indianexpress.com

While paging through the snippets of hamminess in Parliament or  words unleashed by our political leaders, one is reminded of the classic episode of hullabaloo that broke out last year while UPA 2, the then government at the helm of affairs, tabled the Telangana bill. Rajagopal, a man bearing high regards for decorum, one who endorses nothing but prudence and sagacity, ended up unleashing a bottle of pepper spray as a mark of reverence for his opponents who were hell bent on introducing the Bill.

The maverick was an MP of the TDP and in an attempt at protesting the Bill, he thought of taking to judicious means and ended up spraying pepper spray which not only vexed the continuity of the house but also ended up harming his colleagues. Our dear parliamentarians even went to the extent of uprooting microphones and using shards of broken glass to threaten the party in power.

Picture credit: indiatoday.in
Picture credit: indiatoday.in

Thinking of a high voltage drama, how can one forget Tapas Paul’s heart-wrenching statement on women. The actor turned TMC MP who has often been seen crooning away to cocky Bengali songs, in an attempt at taking a dig at his party’s arch rival, went to the extent of donning a Satanist role and rolled out his methods of salvation in a bid  to ensure his female party members’ security in the wake of increasing  attacks on them.

 Introspecting on the dire condition, he stood his ground and  called for an immediate action, “ If any CPI-M man dares to touch  anybody, I will take out my gun and shoot him. I warn my opponents …I will ask my boys to go there, they will rape them and leave them,” said the thoughtful Paul, a woman’s soul saviour.

Picture credit: indianexpress.com

If one talks of the grand episodes of Indian parliament, one might surely recall the recent fall out that shook viewers testifying a BJP MLA’s vehement attempt at supporting his party’s stance on Najeeb Jung, the Lt. Governor of Delhi. The scene was nothing less than a labyrinth, with our leaders laughing at a distorted scene, with marshals throwing out BJP MLA Om Prakash, owing to his stand on Alka Lamba’s comment on Najeeb Jung.

The heady leader was irked by Alka Lamba’s comment on Najeeb Jung, according to whom, Najeeb Jung must have paid a hefty amount to the ruling government for his appointment.  In order to further add to the flamboyance, the members of the legislative assembly were found laughing their lungs out at the buffoonery.

Picture credit: dailymail.co.uk
Picture credit: dailymail.co.uk

Toeing on a similar scene, SP MP Naresh Agarwal’s and BSP MP Avtar Singh Karimpuri’s blockbuster fist fight in the Lok Sabha over a Bill seeking to provide reservation for SC/STs in government jobs was in no way less than a melodrama etched with spice and action scenes worthy enough to be hooted at.

Our beloved leaders should understand and should learn to grasp the real meaning of decorum and scuttle their attempts at being buffoons. Sound deliberations and introspection might turn out to be a better option, hopefully someday they might mull over the same.

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What Would Be The Outcome Of The Judgement On Homosexuality With BJP At The Centre?

If parties like the BJP and "cultural" organisations like the RSS realise the value and motivation of such mindsets, they will desist from their present attempts to impose a straitjacket of their pseudo-religious identity on the nation.

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Flag Of BJP, homosexuality
Ruling on gays: Is the BJP out of sync with modern realities? Flickr

More than the social impact of the Supreme Court’s judgment on homosexuality, what will be of concern to the ruling party at the Centre is its political fallout. Hence, the eloquent silence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the subject.

For the BJP and its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), any expansion of the concept of civil liberties is fraught with danger to their restrictive worldviews since a widening of human rights carries the prospect of greater individualism.

If the rights of the homosexuals to live without legal constraints are conceded, it can only encourage the people to free themselves of other restrictions as well such as on choosing live-in partners (of whatever sex) and eating, dressing and speaking as they please.

Homosexuality, India
SC decriminalises homosexuality, victory for gay rights. Pixabay

It is noteworthy that the verdict on gays has come close on the heels of the judgment which described the right to dissent as a “safety valve” which the government can only shut off at its peril lest there is an explosion.

Moreover, the court had also upheld not long ago the right to privacy which the government described as an “elitist” concept.

For the Hindu Right, as also for other religious fundamentalists, this dalliance with civil rights — the freedom to criticise the government, the exaltation of privacy and now the decriminalisation of homosexuality — entails a push towards liberalism and modernism which are anathema to any group which wants the society to be bound by shackles of orthodoxy and obscurantism.

It is ironic that although the Hindutva brotherhood speaks of decolonising the Indian mind, the two colonial laws which have long been its favourites are the section on homosexuality in the Indian Penal Code and on sedition.

Now that one of them is gone, there is little doubt that these closet followers of Britain’s 19th century politician Lord Macaulay — even as they decry the secular groups as “Macaulay’s children” — will hold on resolutely to the law on sedition as their only safeguard against the “anti-nationals” who, they believe, stalk the land.

Homosexuality
It is ironic that although the Hindutva brotherhood speaks of decolonising the Indian mind, the two colonial laws which have long been its favourites are the section on homosexuality in the Indian Penal Code and on sedition.
Wikimedia Commons

It is also possible that the saffronites will keep a hawk’s eye on any social problems that may arise because of the assertion of gay rights. As the BJP MP Subramanian Swamy has said, with eager anticipation, if a five-judge bench can overturn an earlier judgment in favour of criminalising homosexuality, a larger bench can undo the present verdict if gay bars begin to flourish and there is a rise in the cases of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infections.

Interestingly, what these judgments underline is how the judiciary is more attuned to the changing world than the elected representatives of the hoi polloi who often argue in favour of giving greater primacy to the legislature than the judiciary since they claim to represent the people while the judges are unelected denizens of an ivory tower.

However, one possible reason why MPs and MLAs, especially of the BJP, seem to be out of sync with the present-day world is the presence in their midst of a large number of criminal elements who can hardly be regarded as the most progressive sections of society.

For instance, of the 543 elected members of the Lok Sabha, of whom 186 have a criminal record, 63 belong to the BJP, followed by eight of the Shiv Sena, four of the Trinamool Congress and three each of the Congress and the AIADMK.

Homosexuality
Gay Pride Procession. Pixabay

What the Supreme Court judgment appears to have done is to persuade parties like the Congress, which usually hedges its bets lest it should fall on the wrong side of public opinion, to come out in the verdict’s favour, presumably because it senses that this judgment, more than any other, has become a touchstone in the matter of breaking out from the stranglehold of the past.

To distance a party from it, as the BJP is doing, will amount to virtually alienating the entire youth community. Even if a majority among them do not have homosexual instincts — according to official figures, there are 2.5 million gay people in India, but this may be an underestimate since, till now, it was unsafe for them to reveal their sexual orientation — the youths nevertheless see the ruling as an assertion of living life on one’s own terms and not be held hostage by the dictates of a society steeped in conservatism and of political parties which believe that their agenda can only advanced if the country is made forcibly to conform to khap panchayat-style social and cultural norms.

Also Read: Why JDU & BJP Coalition Will Remain Instant

To these youths, being or not being aware of homosexuality is of little consequence. What matters to them is to be able to make up their own minds and not be told by elders to abide by certain rules which are regarded as outdated by the younger generation.

If parties like the BJP and “cultural” organisations like the RSS realise the value and motivation of such mindsets, they will desist from their present attempts to impose a straitjacket of their pseudo-religious identity on the nation. (IANS)