The Dance Of Pinga!
Supriya Sule: of sarees and parlours
Baramati MP Ms.Supriya Sule’s spilling the beans regarding what actually MPs discuss among each other in the holy house of Indian democracy may have shocked many. The serious disapproval the MP received from her fraternity smacks of Omertà in Italian, which is Mafia code of honour, that places importance on, among other things, silence and secrecy.
However, it is not the first time such revelation is out in public. Only recently two BJP MLAs in Karnataka vidhan sabha were caught on camera watching porn on their mobile device during an on going debate in the House on the hoisting of a Pakistani flag in Sindagi town in Bijapur district.
The unfortunate part is that, Supriya-ji’s saree speak got better over something more important she said before and I quote “When I go to Parliament, I hear the first speech, the second speech and third speech. Till the fourth speech, the one who is speaking is saying the same things the earlier speakers have said.”
This going through the motions of Parliamentary debate is not surprising. Sometime back, an economist friend of mine who was then Rajya Sabha MP told me this story. He said with great bravado that he is the only articulate spokesman to speak on every serious policy issue. So much so that, if found absent in the house at critical moments, the party whip goes berserk and at times my MP friend has been dragged out of the toilet to come and speak. What was more amusing was his claim that having begun with a few sentences on the specific subject under consideration, if he runs out of steam, he skilfully shifts to what is now his standard speech and completes the performance amidst thunderous applause.
So much for our MPs who have only recently given themselves a threefold hike in salary, now earning 68 times the country’s average salary plus pension and perks. And all this when the average assets of 304 MPs who contested in 2004 and then re-contested in 2009 grew 300%!
All this indicates a vegetative state in which today Indian democracy is. Living in form and rituals, but dead in content. The efficient electoral machinery routinely does its job with diligence and discipline. People at large flag polling day in their diaries and calendars and discharge their duty on the D-day. And that’s it. So much for the world’s largest democracy where the performance metric is the regular conduct of elections and share of total votes polled.
This Governance style without any engagement with civil society or public at large is dissipating the very essence of healthy democratic institutions. The social and economic management of society is being conducted behind closed doors among the ruling class consisting of political bigwigs, bureaucracy and the elite in the society. There is no vibrant dialogue with the citizens, leave alone any active involvement in decision-making.
Most Prime Ministers since Narasimha Rao were mouni babas. The current PM has cleverly escaped this trap through his weekly ritual of Mann ki Baat on all sorts of trivial isses.. He has given his colleagues the even more superfluous assignment of Swacch Bharat. This way, he can quietly force through the Rs.98,000 crore Bullet train project without any public consultation, outlay of which is far in excess of the annual budget for schools and public health together.
The silver lining to this dark cloud is what the Aam Aadmi party seems to be doing in Delhi. By involving the public in the Odd Even rule it has made every Delhi citizen part of this decision to tackle pollution. This has indeed mobilised the public and given them a feeling of empowerment through ownership.
Whatever, may be the eventual result of this experiment, the first fifteen days of 2016 in Delhi has been a picture of a live community, willing to experiment to resolve its problems. An exhilarating sign of a people’s democracy in action. No wonder, when it comes to AAP and Arvind Kejriwal, the entire polity and bureaucracy are up in arms. After all who wants a nagging public and accountability for every decision?
Now that the Lok Sabha speaker has spoken of constructing a new house of Parliament, there is an opportunity. Why not locate the new parliament complex in a huge shopping mall. MPs can escape the boring sessions and spend time more productively, shopping or even going to a multiplex watching Pinga dance.