All parties should respect parliament, legislatures: Somnath Chatterjee
Regretting the repeated disruption of parliament and legislative assembly proceedings, former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee Monday called upon all political parties to hold such institutions in high esteem in order to show their respect to the electorate.
"Day after day, sessions in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and the state assemblies are being disrupted. This is not right. Such institutions need to be used in people's interest," Chatterjee said while addressing a function marking the beginning of the birth centenary of former West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu.
"I appeal to all, irrespective of party affiliations and ideologies, to hold elected bodies like parliament, legislative assemblies and panchayats in high esteem. This is the best way of showing one's respect to the voters who elect these bodies," said Chatterjee, who presided over the Lok Sabha from 2004 to 2009.
Refering to Basu, Chatterjee said through his long legislative career, Basu remained a shining example of how the legislature could be used in the interest of the people despite the dearth of numbers.
"When he became a legislator, the CPI (Communist Party of India) did not have many members in the West Bengal house. But despite the small number of MLAs (legislators) of his party, as an opposition leader, Basu showed how the floor of the assembly could be used in the people's interest, how the assembly procedures could be used to reach the voice of the people to the government and the ministry," said the octogenarian Chatterjee.
Former state assembly speaker H.A. Halim recalled how Basu helped in setting up the committee system in the house.
"Parliament and legislators do not function only through the floor of the House, but through the committees," said Halim, who was state assembly speaker for 29 long years from 1982 to 2011.
"Government policies need to be discussed threadbare in the assembly and parliament, so that the matters come to the knowledge of the public," he said.
Lauding the vital and historic role played by the state in India's parliamentary democracy, Halim urged all parties to preserve and strengthen the glorious traditions of the West Bengal assembly.
Present assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee recalled how during Basu's tenure, the state assembly passed several all-party resolutions unanimously on crucial issues.
Speaking on the occasion, Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy said the legislative assemblies are not places to quarrel, but fora for informed debates.
"History will remember Basu for playing a salient role in strengthening parliamentary democracy despite being a communist. Despite having a hectic daily schedule, Basu was never late in the house," Roy recalled.
"He always arrived in time for condolence resolutions, budget discussions and when it was his turn to reply to members during Question Hour," said Roy, who has had a long stint as opposition legislator in the house.
(Posted on 08-07-2013)