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FairPoint: LoP is not about reel-making

FairPoint: LoP is not about reel-making

When Rahul Gandhi debuted as the Leader of Opposition (LoP), everyone presumed that the seriousness of the post would be understood and followed accordingly. But, his performance in the first session of the 18th Lok Sabha has raised more questions and doubts.

On July 3, the happenings in the Lok Sabha during the discussion on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address were something that were, perhaps, unseen in the parliamentary history. It was a rare occasion in the Lok Sabha proceedings when the Speaker named and reprimanded the LoP, accusing him of inciting Opposition members to troop to the Well of the House and protest while the Prime Minister was replying to the vote of thanks.

The videos emanating from inside the House revealed the conduct of the LoP, Rahul Gandhi, who was seen signalling the MPs (Opposition) to step down into the Well of the House when the PM began his speech. His animated instructions were clearly visible and he was enjoying the heckling that the PM was being subjected to.

The agitating opposition MPs repeatedly ignored warnings from Speaker Om Birla and continued with their high-pitched sloganeering and heckling. At the end of the proceedings, the Speaker was compelled to note and say: "It is unbecoming of you as Leader of the Opposition... I have seen you asking members to troop to the Well. Such behaviour is unwarranted on your part…”

One wonders what was going on in the mind of the LoP when he directed his party MPs to disturb PM Modi’s speech by assembling and making a din while standing adjacent to the PM’s chair. Whatever the intention, the PM braved the continuous heckling by Congress MPs and went on to speak for two hours and 15 minutes, breaking his own previous record of 2 hours and 13 minutes in 2023 during a reply to a no-confidence motion. Despite the grave efforts of Rahul's shouting brigade the PM stood his ground unnerved and cornered the LoP and the Congress on several fronts.

While the Opposition was shouting continuously, it was another rare occasion to see the treasury bench remain silent, not confront the protesting MPs and sit solidly behind their leader. The scene will remain etched in the memory of people for a long time.

Even the act of Rahul Gandhi to flaunt religious pictures -- Lord Shiva repeatedly, Jesus Christ and Guru Nanak -- to prove a point was unbecoming of the LoP. By doing this, Rahul Gandhi deliberately flouted rules and the Speaker reminded him by saying: "Rules don't allow the display of placards’, and urged the LoP to adhere to parliamentary protocols.

An advisory issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat in 2022 says very clearly: "As per established convention, no literature, questionnaire, pamphlets, press notes, leaflets or any matter printed or otherwise should be distributed without the prior permission of Honourable Speaker within the precincts of the House. Placards are also strictly prohibited inside the Parliament House Complex." So, when the rules are clear, then why should Rahul Gandhi, who is the LoP now, do everything against the norms?

He may believe that by being disruptive, dividends may get him closer to the power chair. But, in the process, he is creating more controversies.

Another controversy erupted over his visit to the New Delhi Railway Station to meet the loco pilots. The meeting was disputed by the Northern Railway CPRO, who said that the loco pilots were not from the local lobby and that Rahul Gandhi was accompanied by around seven to eight cameramen.

In a parliamentary democracy, it is vital for the Opposition to be strong and the designated leader in the Lower House to be asking questions. But, telling lies and mouthing shocking statements in and outside Parliament are just not the qualities of a conscientious Parliamentarian. His claims on the Agnipath scheme and compensation to martyrs were trashed by the Army when they submitted the proof. Similarly, his remarks related to Hindus during his debut speech as LoP were later expunged.

Rahul’s first-day speech as the LoP may go down as one of the most controversial in the recent history of Parliament, portions of which had to be expunged.

Like the present-day trend of producing shock reels to attract more audiences, Rahul seems to be on a similar path.

Since the day he assumed the role of the LoP, he has been hopping from one place to another accompanied by his group of cameramen to highlight the ‘pain and the suffering’ of the masses.

While there is nothing wrong with the activism, he appears to be selective in picking up case studies and topics. Around 60 people died in the Tamil Nadu hooch tragedy, women were abused and publicly flogged in West Bengal, a Shiv Sena leader was brutally attacked in full public view in Punjab, and several other incidents have happened in INDIA bloc-held states. However, they have not found a response from the LoP.

The LoP’s lopsided view of issues is too stark to go unnoticed. The LoP in the Lok Sabha is a Constitutional post and its dignity needs to be maintained. Rahul Gandhi may be jumping on issues in the hope of attacking PM Modi, but in the process, is also exposing himself.

(Deepika Bhan can be contacted at [email protected])


Tags: India Lok Sabha Rahul Gandhi