Many see the hurling of shoes, earphones and bins at the Speaker’s podium as an act of indiscipline and incivility. The BJP lawmakers, while admitting to have indulged in such unwarranted activity, have cited three major reasons that they claim served as instant provocation.
As Leader of the Opposition (LoP) Pradipta Nayak put it, Speaker Dr Surya Narayan Patro did not allow debate on the distress of farmers. Secondly, the Leader of the Opposition was not allowed to speak when bills were being passed and, finally, pieces of legislation were being passed without discussion.
This situation demands critical and dispassionate analysis for our posterity.
Let’s examine the incident of hurling of shoes, earphones and bins. Such action is surely unpleasant, unsavoury and distasteful. Even the LoP himself has said his party legislators were ready to beg an apology for their act. However, the Speaker Dr Patro suspended them without giving them the opportunity to hear them.
According to Rule 217 (2) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Odisha Legislative Assembly, the Speaker has the power to take any action that he deems fit against errant members.
Let’s consider the second aspect of passing the bills without discussion.
As many as five bills, including the Odisha Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and Odisha Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (Amendment) Bill, 2021, were placed for consideration and passing.
A legislature is a forum which reflects the collective hope and aspirations of the people of a state or country. The elected lawmakers debate and discuss clause-wise various provisions of the bills. However, for a few years now, bills are seen getting passed in the Odisha Legislative Assembly without discussion, ignoring the established tradition.
In the past, Odisha Legislative Assembly has set an example for others by holding discussions on bills like The Utkal University of Culture Bill, 1999 for more than three days. Lawmakers enthusiastically burnt midnight oil to be part of the glorious debate.
Now, when discussion is abuzz that the Odisha government is trying to scuttle the power of the Lokayukta a debate on the bill should have cleared their air. Secondly, discussion on Odisha Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (Amendment) Bill, 2021 would have elicited suggestions and submissions from the learned lawmakers. Such an occasion should have made the laws realistic and pragmatic.
Democracy flourishes though debate and discussions. It gets decimated and even destroyed when the Opposition is crushed with brute majority. History has seen many ruling parties going to oblivion for misutilising their majority to suppress the opposition. The BJD must learn from this.