Zero tolerance is the only solution

Shock and outrage has been expressed at the use of pepper spray by a Member of Parliament inside the Lok Sabha on Thursday. Indian Express reports that senior politicians have used expressions like ‘big blot on our parliamentary democracy’, shame, disgraceful, unbelievable, and ‘insult to democracy’. An editorial in The Hindu comments that “nothing can be as shameful and disgraceful”, and further states that “Another member has been accused of brandishing a knife, but he has denied it, claiming what he was holding was a microphone, probably one wrenched from its fixture.”

I fail to understand how anybody could be even mildly surprised by this incident. What happened is nothing new. It is only slightly worse than what we’ve been seeing over the last few years in legislatures and outside.

Frankly, the politicians are all shedding crocodile tears. The Congress party is outraged because their own MPs have dared to openly challenge the party leadership. The BJP and other non-Congress parties are delighted to see the acute discomfort of the Congress leadership.

If any MP belonging to any party had done the same things while confronting his political opponents, his party leadership would either have justified his actions, or would have criticised him feebly in public but rewarded him suitably at a later date. In any case, no action would have been taken against him.

In December 2012, Sanjay Nirupam made personal attacks on TV actress-turned-politician Smriti Irani during a debate on television. No action was taken against him by his party.

In July 2013, Union Minister Beni Prasad Verma had said that Mulayam Singh Yadav was “not even fit to sweep the Prime Minister’s residence.” No action was taken against him by his party.

On January 17, 2014, Mani Shankar Aiyar made a derogatory remark regarding Narendra Modi’s humble origins as the son of a tea stall owner. No action was taken against him by his party.

Not only did Somnath Bharti’s party not take any action against him for his midnight raid, his action was justified by them. The AAP’s supporters keep claiming, maybe rightly so, that the party has good intentions, but they must remember that the end does not justify the means.

If our political leaders are sincere about improving the behaviour of their party members, they must show zero tolerance towards such behaviour, irrespective of the seniority and/or grassroots level support enjoyed by the offending member.

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7 thoughts on “Zero tolerance is the only solution

  1. Zero tolerence for what?
    Congress’ Beni Prasad of the North, Sanjay Nirupam in the West and the loud mouthed diplomat-turned discredited politician Mani Shankar, of the South all make use of offensive language.
    NaMo with in his punching oratory mixes his history and geography and facts too. Read The Week Feb.23 last page Last Word by Mallika Sarabhai’s “Figures tell a tale” graphically with facts and figures about “growth” in gujarat!

  2. My first and foremost reaction to the incident was that how were they allowed to carry a pepper-spray, or a knife, or a microphone and other things inside the Parliament. I have been to the Lok Sabha session in 1994 while in school and we were not allowed to even carry money, pen or water bottles inside the main gate. Are rules different for the politicians? Also, if they were carrying such things within the building, it means they are all well aware of the company of people they are ‘working’ with. Isn’t it?

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