Friday, July 19, 2024
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Takeways from Speaker election drama

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Editor,
The third day of the first session of the 18th Lok Sabha saw a protest by the INDIA bloc in the form of election for the post of Speaker. The Ruling alliance and the Opposition alliance failed to reach a consensus after the Ruling side failed to guarantee the post of Deputy Speaker to the Opposition.
Whereas in the morning of the third day, the INDIA bloc’s candidate, Congress M.P. Kodikkunal Suresh affirmed that INDIA bloc is united, and therefore will ask for a division of votes in the house.
At home, many were asking the Shillong MP Dr Ricky Syngkon not to abstain from voting. When it was confirmed that the MP was going to abstain, we saw virile criticisms from some sections that abstention amounted to support of the Ruling alliance, and even more virile accusations that the MP and his party are supporting BJP and even Hindutva ideology, by the mere act of abstaining from voting for the Speaker.
But when all was said and done and the dust had settled, the Speaker was actually elected unanimously, because after the voice votes were recorded, the INDIA bloc never called for a division of votes. There were no paper votes, as the whole exercise proved to be merely a symbolic protest by the Opposition bloc. But what is more telling is that there are reports that some individual MP’s in the Opposition actually objected to the unanimous election of Om Birla as the Speaker and called for division of votes.
So, why did neither the Ruling alliance nor the Opposition bloc call for a division of votes, when as many as eight MPs, according to some reports, objected to the election and had called for it? The takeaway is that the INDIA bloc is not as united as those who criticised the Shillong MP think it to be. The Opposition alliance itself did not take the objection of some MP’s seriously. It was always a symbolic exercise that was never going to see paper votes being cast. And at the end of the day, when the dust had settled, the INDIA bloc and the Ruling alliance elected the Speaker unanimously, with no objection.
So, the Shillong MP happened to be on the right side of this futile and symbolic drama, and I applaud his stance, despite the strong and virile criticisms. So, I appeal to all sections of the State to be more mature in their public statements and not be so reactionary or hyperbolic in their statements, as it is in this case, the drama was much ado about nothing. Let us support or criticize our MP within reason.
Yours etc.,
Kitdor H. Blah,
Via email

Lessons from the Emergency

Editor,
Apropos the news item “Reference to Emergency could have been avoided, Rahul tells Speaker ” (ST June 28, 2024). The decision of the Speaker, Lok Sabha to raise historical issues can be a matter of debate. The Speaker’s role is to maintain decorum, ensure smooth proceedings, and uphold parliamentary rules. If the issue being raised has direct relevance to current affairs, governance or constitutional matters, it may be appropriate. Sometimes, revisiting historical events can serve as a reminder of past mistakes or achievements. It can inform lawmakers and citizens about consequences of certain actions. However, if the Speaker raises old issues purely for political gains or to divert attention, it may not be in the best interest of parliamentary functioning. Ultimately the appropriateness depends on the specific context, intent, and impact of raising the issue. Transparency, fairness and adherence to parliamentary norms should guide such decisions.
The Emergency of 1975 in India offers crucial lessons for politicians and democratic governance. The three takeaways are (a) imposition of Emergency demonstrated the dangers of concentrating power in the hands of a single leader (b) politicians should prioritize democratic principles, people’s participation, and adherence to constitutional norms (c) despotism has no place in a healthy democracy. The ambiguity surrounding the Emergency provision in the Constitution was evident during 1975. Policy makers must ensure that emergency powers are used judiciously and only in cases of armed rebellion or external aggression. Clarity and transparency in legal provisions are essential.
The Emergency made citizens acutely aware of their rights and civil liberties. Politicians should uphold these fundamental rights and avoid undermining constitutional organs like the judiciary. Public awareness and vigilance are critical for safeguarding democracy. Therefore, politicians should learn from history and prioritize democratic values, legal clarity, and citizens’ rights to prevent any recurrence of such dark episodes in future.
Yours etc;
VK Lyngdoh
Via email

Restore Bangalkata’s Power Now

Editor,
I am writing to draw attention to the severe hardships faced by the residents of Bangalkata village in the Phulbari constituency due to prolonged electricity outage. For the past 13 days, our village has been without power, causing significant disruption to our daily lives.
Phulbari constituency is represented by the Power Minister of Meghalaya, Mr. A.T. Mondal, which makes this situation particularly concerning. Despite repeated appeals to the local authorities, no substantive action has been taken to resolve this issue.
The electricity outage has severely impacted various aspects of our lives:
1. Education: This is the time for half-yearly examinations, and students are finding it extremely difficult to study without proper lighting. Absence of electricity is hindering their preparation, which could adversely affect their academic performance.
2. Healthcare: The local health centre is unable to function effectively, putting the health and lives of villagers at risk.
3. Agriculture: Farmers are facing difficulties in irrigating their fields, which could lead to crop failure and subsequent financial losses.
4. Daily Life: The absence of electricity has disrupted basic activities, including food preservation and communication, leading to a decline in the quality of life.
We request the Power Minister to respond to our call and to take immediate action to restore electricity in Bangalkata village. We deserve to get equal treatment in terms of power supply as the people of Shillong and other district headquarters get.
Yours etc.,
Tauqer Hassan,
Bangalkata Village,
Phulbari

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editor,
Lord Buddha famously said, “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” Our policy makers need to concentrate on how to make India more democratic and how to safeguard our Constitution more effectively now in 2024, rather than dwelling in the distant past, in the period of the 1975 Emergency.
Also, they must focus on the pressing problems of the present, like rising inequality, unemployment, inflation, train accidents, question paper leaks, corruption, and pollution. It would be equally damaging for all of us if they start dreaming about the future as distant as in 2047.
Yours etc.,
Sujit De,
Kolkata

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