House of ruckusUnruly behaviour reflects poorly not just on the representatives but on the people too.
On Friday, September 10, Finance Minister Janardan Sharma presented Nepal’s annual financial plan for the ongoing fiscal year 2021-22. He did so through a replacement bill designed to amend the budget presented by the erstwhile government led by KP Sharma Oli on May 29. There was nothing unusual about the bill itself; it was quite expected from all quarters of society monitoring the situation. However, what caught everyone by surprise was the way the finance minister sprinted to the podium escorted by marshals to enable him to present the bill.
The representatives of the people are supposed to be persons of integrity and ethics. But what we witnessed in the House was not the prerogative bestowed on parliamentarians. Sharma continued reading the new budget statement amidst sloganeering by lawmakers of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) who climbed over the marshals guarding the podium to express their discontent. It was as if they were baying for blood. Such unruly behaviour reflects poorly not just on the representatives but on the people too; after all, they are elected from the same societal pool which they seek to represent.
The actions of the ruling party are not flawless, but the crux of the problem seems to stem from the dissatisfaction expressed by the main opposition party, CPN-UML, which has been unrelentingly attacking the business of the House to protest Speaker Agni Sapkota’s refusal to strip 14 of its defectors of their parliamentary status. By convention, the speaker convenes a meeting of the Business Advisory Committee of Parliament to resolve any differences related to the House proceedings, but he failed to do so and the aggravated opposition members obstructed the House.
It seems only appropriate to give them "credit" for what they have recently done, in stark contrast to what the country witnessed in 2015 when the distinguished Members of Parliament hurled microphones at each other and smashed furniture—conjuring up images of a nasty barroom brawl. Politicians are quick to point to Western democracies to illustrate the benefits of democracy, where representatives have meaningful discussions on issues far more prickly than what we here in Nepal can imagine; and yet, they are conducted in a manner most civil that makes them the envy of the world. We are yet to see such decorum practised here in Nepal.
While anger has been brewing on the streets with protests against the wayward actions of the parliamentarians in the handling of issues arising out of the pandemic and the MCC fiasco, the recent actions of our lawmakers jumping around and resorting to pushing and shoving have again put the spotlight on their wanton acts. It is a sad state of affairs where we have been reduced to discussing the behaviour of people rather than ideas.