The Lok Sabha was adjourned till noon yesterday after an uproar over the publication of a cartoon featuring B R Ambedkar in NCERT textbooks. Apparently, the cartoon was used to indicate that the framing of the constitution had been a slow process. It showed Ambedkar sitting on a snail called the Constitution and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru whipping it to make it move faster.
Interestingly, the cartoon in question was published over six decades ago, but our MPs still saw it fit to use the issue as an excuse to disrupt parliamentary proceedings. BSP Chief Mayawati asked the government to ‘intervene and take strong action’ against those involved. She agreed to wait a couple of days and, in the event of the government not acting, added that her party would not allow the House to run.
All of this played out approximately 24 hours after the Rajya Sabha was adjourned twice because members complained of a ‘foul’ smell. A couple of weeks ago, it was adjourned twice after the Bharatiya Janata Party demanded an explanation from the government on former Swedish police chief Sten Lindstrom’s revelations on the Bofors payoff scandal. Not long before that, the House observed silence as a mark of respect to departed Samajwadi Party member Brij Bhushan Tiwari, after which it was adjourned for the day.
We are not disputing the possibility that all of these examples cited may be valid reasons for adjournment. What we would like to understand is what these disruptions cost the nation. The Houses are where our elected leaders gather in order to discuss issues of prime importance to all Indians. Their decisions affect the lives of millions. Keeping this in mind, doesn’t a debate on any contentious issue seem like a more sensible thing to do than simply leaving the room?