Sunday Snippets: New Parliamentarians in new Parliament House!
By Venkatesh Raghavan
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inaugurated the new Parliament building amid protests from several Opposition parties, performed ‘Havan’, and installed the ‘Sengol’ near Lok Sabha Speaker’s chair. The messages of the President and Vice President of India (who is also the Chairman of Rajya Sabha) were read out during the inauguration ceremony.
My friend Amir seemed lost in thought as I began sipping my fresh lime squash. Seated in his Irani café, I punched him in his ribs. Our conversation went on somewhat along these lines.
Amir: Almost the entire Opposition has opted to stay out and boycott the inauguration of the new Parliament building. What do you read from this? Do you think it’s a sign of brewing discontent?
Me: As Jesus observed, “You store new wines in new bottles.” Our new Parliament building, I think, needs new Parliamentarians from the Opposition ranks. It’s a different thing altogether that no one other than the foreign journalists get to savour wine in our Parliament space.
Amir: Are you telling me that akin to Jesus of Nazareth, the Treasury Bench is setting an example for others to get inspired and follow?
Me: On the contrary, I am pointing out a totally different school of thought. Like Jesus sought that new wine be stored in new bottles, our Parliamentarians too seek new perks and allowances to occupy the new parliament building. It’s called the august house. It calls for august facilitations for its members to carry out its proceedings in an august manner.
Amir: Are you referring to the premise that enhancements found in the new Parliament House are for the betterment of the quality of life of Parliamentarians?
Me: You are somewhat close in stating that. However, members from the Upper House have stated that the new Parliament is expected to fulfil the hopes and aspirations of the people of India. It means more and more people watching Parliamentary proceedings and functions on television will aspire to become Parliamentarians and give up their current jobs. In fact, new wines in new bottles have a long-term connotation too. It means a new generation of politicians will land in Parliament and occupy the new structure.
Amir: I don’t see any link between the Opposition boycotting the inauguration of the new Parliament House and your mention of new allowances and perks. It sounds like many are already yearning to receive long-term kickbacks for the expenses that the government incurred on the new Parliament House.
Me: I am not referring to money changing hands Amir. I am talking about how the Opposition benches in the new Parliament House will expect it to somewhat resemble the video clip from the Google office premises. You have everything from drinks, food, washrooms, couches, beds and liberal space and indoor sports venues for those employed in their office premises.
Amir: That seems strong enough for people to aspire and opt for a career as a Parliamentarian.
Me: You remember our Prime Minister saying, “The progress in setting up the new Parliament House will also enhance progress taking place globally?”
Amir: To me, it sounds like an extremely far-fetched thing to happen. Even abstract algebra or say group theory in mathematics is simpler to understand than this statement.
Me: It’s not abstract algebra Amir. It’s a plain simple law of attraction. Global Parliamentarians who get to view our model of Parliament House, will aspire to make their houses, be it the Knesset, Congress or Duma as grand as ours, if not better. It just means people the world over will aspire to become Parliamentarians in their respective countries. It is all because of our beloved and most popular Prime Minister.
Amir: That makes sense. Hail Modi, the global icon of Parliamentary democracy!