New Delhi: Initiating the debate in the Rajya Sabha on the completion of 60 years of the first sitting of Parliament, Prime Minister Manmohan singh raised concerns over "repeated disruptions" and "unwillingness" for discussions. He on Sunday appealed to members to restore the dignity and decorum in the Rajya Sabha. At the same time he said the history of the functioning of the House over the last 60 years proves that the trust reposed in it by the founding fathers of the Constitution has been substantially fulfilled.
"That is not to say that we should not reflect with concern on the repeated disruptions of proceedings and a regrettable unwillingness, on occasion, to engage in informed discussion," the Prime Minister noted.
On the other hand leader of the Lok Sabha and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee lamented that a handful of members throttle "silent majority" and called for a mechanism that will eliminate disruptions.
"On many occasions, this House has been tumultuous, tempers ran high, but disruptions was the least this House has adopted.
"Because when we disrupt the House then it serves no purpose. We cannot hear. We cannot speak. Only a handful of members completely throttle the desire of a silent majority to speak," Mukherjee said, initiating the debate to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the first sitting of Parliament.
Mukherjee said Parliament has acted as a "shock absorber" on several occasions and whenever there have been disputes, dissensions, the Lok Sabha has played a role in defusing it. "Whenever there were tensions, disputes and dissensions, it has come to this House and under this great dome we have been able to defuse that on most occasions," he said.
"But over the years we have evolved a system and able to find an amicable solution," he said.
Endorsing the views of Mukherjee, BJP leader L K Advani said tolerance and understanding for each others' views and debates in Parliament can solve issues.
Referring to famous thinker Charvak, Advani said his line of 'eat, drink and make merry'was understood and respected despite the fact that he challenged the traditional philosophy that you pay for your sins in the next birth. The BJP leader said people sceptical of a country of poor and illiterate people becoming a successful democracy have been proved wrong.
"Western intellectuals were sceptical on how people who cannot sign and put thumb impression on papers will be able to run democracy...today we can say it with pride that we have proved them wrong," he said.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi said members should live up to the ideals of the founding fathers of the Constitution. The 60th anniversary of the first sitting of Parliament was an occasion for reflection on its achievements, she said.
She said the "journey of Parliament had not always been smooth or without challenges" and the anniversary "was also an occasion for reflection." The UPA chairperson emphasised that independence of Parliament must be protected at all costs and urged members to live up to the ideals of the makers of Constitution. "Our conduct must be according to the standards of founding fathers," Gandhi said.
Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP) said the House should take a pledge to fulfil the dreams of Mahatma Gandhi as farmers' suicides and hunger related deaths remain a major challenge for the country. He said on the occasion, soldiers who have been guarding the borders, should be saluted as they have been instrumental in protecting democracy.
Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said despite having expert parliamentarians and legislators, government is taking help of committees to ascertain the number of poor. He also questioned how number of calories consumed could be a basis of ascertaining poverty.
"Democracy has reached Parliament. It should reach the doorsteps of the poor," he said, making a strong plea to send a message for ending social and economic discrimination. The JD(U) leader said it was only Parliament, which has taken steps to stem the rot in the system by "expelling members and even sending some to jail".
Sudip Bandopadhyay (Trinamool) said Parliament should reflect the ideals of the national anthem and become "a representative Parliament, which is open and transparent, accessible, accountable and an effective House."
In an apparent reference to the controversy over holding of early general election which has now been denied by the Congress and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, he said "Parliament should continue for the full five-year term. We should ensure it is not dissolved in 13 days or 13 months as in the past. It leads to huge financial losses to the nation."
TKS Elangovan (DMK) said earlier the Prime Minister's assurances in the House used to be the law and the House has been "strongly divided but also solidly united" on issues. "We should restore that glory to the House."
CPI(M) leader Basudeb Acharia, a Member of Parliament since 1980, said so long pauperisation, starvation and illiteracy exist, there would be challenges to parliamentary democracy.
Reminding the House that the first Leader of Opposition A K Gopalan of undivided CPI had spoken on removal of poverty, exploitation and discrimination during a debate on the address by President Rajendra Prasad, he said all these problems have "grown exponentially in the last 60 years".
"If actions of this House helps only a few to earn huge profits, we will have to seriously think whether we are taking the right path," Acharia said, adding another major problem corroding parliamentary democracy was the use of money power in elections and sought state-funding of elections.
Arjun Charan Sethi (BJD) said parliamentary democracy should be taken to the people, while Anant Geete (Shiv Sena) wanted the decorum and dignity of the House to be maintained as it played the most crucial role in the country's progress.
Eulogising the people of India for their role in strengthening parliamentary democracy, NCP chief Sharad Pawar made an apparent reference to Emergency and said "the people taught a lesson to those who tried to deviate from democracy and brought in others to restore it.
"But these people (who came to power) were also shunted out in two years as they failed to do so," he said complimenting the electorate. Pawar also spoke against regular disruption of the House, saying, "I wonder what the young students take back in their minds about Parliament when they come here to see proceedings and the House is disrupted."
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said 60 years was not too long a duration in the life of a nation, but it is a milestone when members should turn around and look back on the time gone by and think about the future.
"This is a moment for introspection and analyse the challenges ahead," Kumar said. She said it was a matter of satisfaction that the nation was making economic progress and efforts should be made to speed up growth.
Parliament has adapted to changing times, Kumar said adding that it has enacted 3,400 progressive laws and more than 500 legislations to empower the deprived and for overall development.
She noted that three joint sittings of Parliament were called for considering the Dowry Prohibition Bill, Banking Services Commission (Repeal) Bill and Prevention of Terrorism Bill.
The Speaker said people deserved the real credit for success of democracy as it is their enthusiastic participation in elections that has kept the institution of Parliament alive. "The belief of the people of India in democratic values is the foundation of our Parliamentary system," she said.
The commoners and the neglected people, who struggle everyday for their existence, toil day and night to earn their livelihood and actively take part in elections, the belief of such faceless Indians is key to the success of democracy," Kumar said.
New Delhi: Initiating the debate in the Rajya Sabha on the completion of 60 years of the first sitting of Parliament, Prime Minister Manmohan singh raised concerns over "repeated disruptions" and "unwillingness" for discussions. He on Sunday appealed to members to restore the dignity and decorum in the Rajya Sabha.
At the same time he said the history of the functioning of the House over the last 60 years proves that the trust reposed in it by the founding fathers of the Constitution has been substantially fulfilled.