The disruption is targeted at the Speaker, Agni Prasad Sapkota, for allegedly facilitating the split in the UML and thereby showing political bias when he is supposed to maintain a neutral stand on issues of parliamentary affairs. The opposition has smelt a rat in the undue time taken by the Speaker to expel 14 members of the Madhav Nepal group
The parliament has attracted the attention of all the people alike in the country, unfortunately for ironic reasons marked by the uproar there. The opposition party and the governing parties almost came to blows with each other, little realising that it sends a very negative message to the people, especially when the political parties have reached the nadir of their popularity. This has surfaced due to the collapse of the communist government, which was voted to power with a near two-thirds majority in the parliament.
The disruption has been targeted at the Speaker of the parliament, Agni Prasad Sapkota, for allegedly facilitating the split in the UML and thereby showing political bias when he is supposed to maintain a neutral stand on issues of parliamentary affairs. The opposition has smelt a rat in the undue time taken by the Speaker to expel 14 members of the Madhav Nepal group.
This is, however, not the first time that such a brawl has occurred in the Nepali parliament. The winter session of the 2015 parliament proceeding took an ugly turn when on that unfortunate Tuesday, the 20thof January, three security marshals were injured following the act of the opposition legislators, who had climbed on the benches to throw chairs as well as microphones erratically all around the parliament floor over a heated debate on the new constitution.
The government wanted to maintain fewer provinces, citing a higher financial burden for a poor country like Nepal, while the opposition party led by the Maoists and the smaller groups were seeking to have at least 10 states named after ethnic and marginalised groups. The government, however, wanted to finalise the draft of the constitution prepared by the Constituent Assembly after seeking concurrence on some contentious issues.
It is often said that the degree of people's civilization is seen in their public fora. Similarly, the degree of political refinement is observed in the parliament, depending upon how the politicians express the worst of the things in the best of the language, duly maintaining the parliamentary decorum.
When Atal Bihari Vajpayee, then a beginner in the politics in the late fifties, said that he saw Churchill and Chamberlain both in Jawahar Lal Nehru, Nehru responded very calmly by complimenting with his remarks without at all being offended. This is recognised as the highest level of decorum ever maintained in the parliament.
Disruption of the parliament occurs when the situation worsens to the extent that the Speaker cannot conduct the proceedings of the House any more, leading to its premature adjournment.
Such a situation comes into being after repeatedly preventing or interrupting another member from speaking by the disgruntled members of the parliament.
It is followed by the shouting of slogans and descending on the floor to physically disrupt the meeting. Such scenes are being repeatedly enacted in the parliament currently in Nepal.
Whether it be the British, Indian or the Nepali parliament, a considerable amount of time is wasted through such disruptions.
The British parliament is supposed to sit for 150 days in a year, but it has plummeted conside
rably these days. The Indian House used to meet for 127 days in 1950, but it has taken a nosedive to only 74 days. It hit rock bottom in the year 2010, when the Upper House just met for less than three hours, and the Lower House for less than 8 hours.
The record of the Nepali parliament is no better. At one time, during the time in the nineties, when Girija Prasad Koirala was the Prime Minister, the parliament was disrupted for 57 consecutive days.
The UML has been protesting on what they say is the unjustified stand of the Speaker in taking an undue long time to decide on the expulsion of the 14 members of the Madhav Kumar Nepal group when the same Speaker had acted incredibly fast, even overshadowing the Quicksilver fame in Greek mythology, to expel Sarita Giri over her controversial remarks on the India-Nepal border dispute.
A similar incidence had occurred in Manipur, India when the Speaker, Ramesh Kumar, had delayed the floor test in the face of the imminent collapse of the JD(S) State Government in the state.
In response to the Supreme Court's inquiry about the fate of the rebel MLAs, Kumar had replied by saying that he could not act at lightning speed.
On this incidence, the Indian Supreme Court had asked the parliament to ponder over the power of the Speaker under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution in deciding petitions seeking disqualification of the lawmakers. Its contention was that the Speaker has to act in a nonpartisan manner as he holds a quasi-judicial constitutional post.
The harsh reality is that the Speaker also fights for the election on the ticket of a particular party. The nature of election of the Speaker thus makes it difficult to maintain neutrality sometimes. He at times has to face a political dilemma.
The Indian Court suggested that such decisions regarding the expulsion of the parliamentarians be taken by some impartial body like the Election Commission. But it is also alleged to be heavily politically infected in Nepal.
The dead silence of the commission in the case of finalising the genuine Nepal Communist Party following the petition filed by Rishiram Kattel is cited as an example.
Voices can be heard resonating in the hallowed political corridors regarding the gross failure of democracy, when the Speaker is seen taking sides when he is supposed to be impartial and neutral.
But this may not be right if Mahatma Gandhi is to be believed. He had once said that democracy is a great institution and it is liable to be abused, and the remedy is not the avoidance of democracy but the reduction of the possibility to abuse it to a minimum.
A version of this article appears in the print on September 15 2021, of The Himalayan Times.