Disciplining our parliamentarians


When one parliamentarian, supposedly a representative of the people who have elected him to his office, forcibly thrusts an item of food into another’s mouth – in this case a catering official –the quality of the food that had purportedly caused the furore becomes less important than the behaviour of the elected people’s representative.

In a country such as India, the parliamentarians represent a public that lives in largely difficult circumstances, amidst deprivations of varying degrees of magnitude – including of basic food to meet minimum nutritional and calorie requirements. The public funds the perks the parliamentarians enjoy, in the hope that their elected representatives will raise and resolve issues that are relevant to their progress. The polity also, perhaps over-optimistically, trust that their parliamentarians will live up to reasonable standards of public etiquette and moral behaviour.

Therefore, in a democracy such as ours, when persons in power muscle their way into unsavoury scuffles, to put it mildly, they are not merely making an unseemly spectacle. They are guilty of the breach of trust imposed in them by the public.

Just as rape is not just about physical violence, assault by persons in power is not merely about the physical offence.

Postscript: A ‘breaking news’ item, even as I write this, reports that students in Bihar, who were protesting the perpetual serving of poor food in their hostel, were lathicharged by the police. Should parliamentarians similarly protesting the poor quality of food in their canteen be simply let off the hook?


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