Speaker’s ‘economic sanctions’ fail to deter truant MPs

April 28th, 2008 - 8:36 pm ICT by admin  

By Monobina Gupta
New Delhi, April 28 (IANS) Few members of parliament are likely to forget the booming voice of Somnath Chatterjee, threatening them with a “no work - no pay” fiat if they continued to hold up regular business in the Lok Sabha. The speaker’s voice perhaps climbed a notch higher than usual Monday, when he wagged his finger and warned the MPs their frivolity in the house could cost them dearly.

“I am warning you there will be no pay,” boomed Chatterjee from his chair when the MPs wanted union Shipping , Surface Transport and Highways Minister T.R.Baalu to be severely punished for yielding to fatherly love and misusing his ministerial position to favour his sons.

It is not without reason Chatterjee is beginning to sound more than just exasperated, especially when even the threat of an ‘economic sanction’ is cutting no ice with the wards and charges under his wings.

The Lok Sabha records show that the speaker has been threatening an economic squeeze for the past two years. But the members seem to have become immune to such threats and are not unduly worried that the speaker might one day, more distressed than usual, just decide to snip their pockets.

Chatterjee may be loud and threatening, but the MPs are not cowering.

In May 2007, when the MPs were rooting for a pay hike, Chatterjee told them: “Instead of a pay hike, you should not be paid at all.” More recently, in February this year the speaker threw up his arms and told the shouting MPs: “You are working over time to finish democracy. The members are not willing to work.”

One of Chatterjee’s favourite laments that he keeps throwing at his MPs is: “Do not forget this is Parliament of India. The entire nation is watching you.”

But the MPs do not mind being caught on camera, lunging at one another or shouting themselves hoarse.

When the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government offered Chatterjee the Lok Sabha Speaker’s position and his party - the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) - signalled its go-ahead, Chatterjee told the media he was confident of “running the house”.

Four years down the line, the speaker is throwing with more and more alacrity his favourite “no work - no pay” diktat at the members who, confident that it will never be a writ, continue to play merry in the house.

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