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To the Derek O’Briens and Santunu Sens of TMC: Rajya Sabha is not a place for vandals

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Dr Sudhir Bisht
Dr Sudhir Bisht
Former CEO, Adjunct Professor, author, independent columnist & life-long learner| Religious Beliefs- Vedant darshan, Bhagavad Gita| Economic beliefs: Capitalism with strong regulatory framework

Robert Kennedy Jr said, “Democracy is messy and it is hard. It is an never easy.”

No one knows it better than Shri Harivansh Narain Singh, the Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha. He occupies the Chair of the House of the ‘elders’ whenever the Chairman, Vice President Mr Venkaiah Naidu, is not present in the house.

In September 2020 last year, during the discussions on Farm Bills, former Quiz-master turned hyperactive TMC MP, Derek O’Brien, had tried to tear the rule book of the house and throw it on Harivansh ji. It was the intervention of the House Marshals that the rule book didn’t strike the face of the Deputy Chairman. It would have left his face in a bloody mess, may have injured his eye or crashed his nose bone.

Derek who was protesting against the manner in which Farm Bills were passed in the Rajya Sabha was beside himself and had even tried to snatch the microphone from Sh Harivansh.

O’Brien is one of the most disruptive MPs in the Indian Parliament and if ever he turns to being a quiz master again, he will do well to include a question that asks, “Who is the most rowdy Rajya Sabha member of all times?” The answer would be, the Quiz-master himself.

Perhaps taking a leaf out of Brian’s record book, another TMC member of Rajya Sabha,Dr. Santunu Sen, is trying hard to usurp the mantle of being the most unruly member of Rajya Sabha. He is outperforming Derek O’Brien in hooliganism and is sending a strong signal to his party supremo, Mamata Banerjee, that Derek O’Brien is a thing of past and in the matters of exhibition of fist and fury, he outshines Derek by a mile.

Sen’s object of hatred earlier this week was the new IT Minister Ashvini Vaishnav who incidentally has outstanding record in civil administration and corporate leadership. Ashvini is highly educated and is widely respected for his capacity to grapple with complex issues in an objective manner.

Ashvini had his ministerial baptism by fire in Rajya Sabha on 22 July as he was heckled and shouted down, when he was making a statement on the controversy of the alleged use of Pegasus Spyware to snoop on some of the Indian men and women in public life.

The IT Minister was subjected to utter humiliation by Santunu Sen, who snatched papers from the Minister’s hand, tore them into pieces and attempted to throw them at Mr Harivansh, the Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha who was conducting the business of the house at that time.

The disrespectful and unrepentant Santunu Sen, is a medical doctor who was a member of Kolkata Municipal Corporation before he was elected to Rajya Sabha in 2018.

What kind of a medical doctor Santunu Sen would have been? If one were to take a cue from his behaviour in Rajya Sabha then he would have been a very boorish and recalcitrant kind of a medical practitioner. Perhaps someone who would tear down the laboratory report of a patient, if the report showed no improvement in the condition of the patient even after he was under Dr Sen’s close observation and treatment.

May be he was one of those doctors who gives cold, threatening stares to the wailing children at the clinics. Someone who goes around pushing the medical attendants if they made the slightest of mistakes in carrying out the instructions.

Sometime I wonder how could someone belonging to a respected Bengali gentry, someone who boasts of degrees like M.B.B.S., D.M.R.D., F.I.A.M.S., F.R.C.P. (Glassgow) gives an impression of being a former henchman who used to brandish a local pistol as he collected the weekly extortion money.

How can a middle-aged man, educated at R.G. Kar Medical College, act like one of the bullies of Chor Bazar of Kolkata? The unruly behavior of Santunu Sen resulted in his suspension from the house for the rest of the monsoon session.

When last heard, Sen refused to leave the the house in spite of the suspension orders. His obstinacy not only caused loss of man hours on 22nd July, he ensured that the house continued to be disrupted the next day.

The questions that needs to be answered is that why shouldn’t the Hon’ble MP be expelled from the house? Why mere suspension for acts that are reprehensible and shameful?

How should we, the citizens of this country deal with such MPs? We cannot approach the Supreme Court against the takeover of the Parliament by these disruptive elements, because whatever happens inside the two houses is the responsibility of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

The Rajya Sabha Chairman and the Lok Sabha Speaker have shown rather forgiving attitude towards the Parliamentarians who create ruckus inside the house. The Government also seems content with the House being adjourned again and again. It seems okay with the passing the bills even when most of the Opposition has walked out.

If the prevalent practice of frequent walkouts, jumping in the well of the house, heckling the ministers and terrorizing the Chairman/ Speaker of the house continues, the day is not far when people will lose faith in the Parliamentary form of democracy. The members of Parliament will be treated as elected warlords who have neither respect for democracy, nor love for Parliamentary decorum.

Derek O’Brien and Santunu Sen may get accolades from their Party Supremo but they would lose their reputation among the people of India. The opposition would do well to pay heed to the words of Sharad Pawar who said, “Without dialogue, you cannot run Parliament. You have to interact.”

The famous writer RL Stevenson said, “We all know what a Parliament is, and we are all ashamed of it.”

Derek O’Brian and Santunu Sen may kindly note that it is not their duty to prove Stevenson right. They would also do well to remember that small-time vandals always have miserable end. Their Bosses sitting afar, don’t even take note when it is all over for the small boys.

About the author: Dr Sudhir Bisht, author and columnist, writes from New Delhi

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Dr Sudhir Bisht
Dr Sudhir Bisht
Former CEO, Adjunct Professor, author, independent columnist & life-long learner| Religious Beliefs- Vedant darshan, Bhagavad Gita| Economic beliefs: Capitalism with strong regulatory framework
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