बैठ जाइये: Takeaways from Parliament’s Lokpal Debate

‘All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone’ – said Blaise Pascal.

On those lines, there might be some truth in extending it a bit – ‘All of a nation’s problems perhaps stem from their parliamentarians’ inability to sit quietly and agree in a room together.’ If only more of our parliamentarians could agree on solutions to more of our nation’s problems more frequently, a lot of our problems would perhaps be non-existent, or definitely solved faster.

At the very least, the problem that our speaker faces daily of having to repeatedly keep saying “बैठ जाइये” so often would definitely go away. Pity the speaker of the house trying to control the proceedings of the house – specially on days like Friday of last week, which is, perhaps, more like a normal working day for Parliament. It was evident that whenever someone would stand up to ‘make a respectful submission’ or a ‘humble point’, all it would result in would be noise from some section of the house, followed by a different version of “बैठ जाइये” from the speaker. Honestly, how many different ways can you say “बैठ जाइये” after all? It seems that there is an inverse relation between the number of “बैठ जाइये” pleas made by the speaker and the quality of output from the house. One could see that on Friday, after all the constant “बैठ जाइये” pleas, finally the house was adjourned, and on Saturday, with only a few intermittent “बैठ जाइये” pleas, the house achieved some meaningful debate and reasonable output. How I wish we had more such occasions where parliamentarians could sit in peace and agree more!

For the past two weeks, common citizens – led by an uncommon man – have found it much easier to follow “बैठ जाइये” instructions. They have all been ‘sitting in peace’, in protest silently, non-violently – all agreeing on the common need to root out corruption at all levels in the country. Somehow, they have also presented a solution to the problem in the form of a bill, that some agreed on, some did not, but everyone felt was on the right lines at least. And if a whole country, well almost, but a significant part of it could do so, it was high time that a set of 540-odd elected representatives could find a way of sitting quietly and agreeing in a room.

Well – it looks like they did achieve a way of doing that on Saturday. But the people outside are still not convinced that this is real. “यह तो कमाल कर दिया” – said my broker friend Jigneshbhai, also a supporter of the India against Corruption movement, just returning yesterday from one of the rallies. May be it was a one-time miracle, may be it was not. Perhaps the ones outside the house will agree, sit and protest again, maybe when they realise that the ones inside are not able to sit and agree again.

And then, unfortunately, the problems for the speaker are sure to start again. She will have to find new ways of saying “बैठ जाइये”. I have a suggestion. May be she should change it, and say “बैठ जाइये नहीं तो अन्ना हजारे को बोलूंगी”! Who knows – maybe that will work and we will have miracles like Saturday again!

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