Saturday, February 18, 2017

Bedlam in Tamil Nadu Assembly

Saturday, February 18th witnessed a physical show of strength by the principal opposition, the DMK. The finale was reached when the Speaker was manhandled and his table split into modular pieces. This unwelcome scene was seen by the public on various TV channels.

Only Jaya TV was permitted by the Assembly to videograph the proceedings. This politically slanted permission ensured that only selected excerpts were available for other channels. Journalists inside the Assembly were not enabled even to hear the Assembly proceedings. AIADMK legislators who were earlier confined in resorts near Mamallapuram were not allowed to move from their seats till the day's proceedings were over. Food and soft drinks of their choice were served to them in their seats. How legislator-friendly!

It was clear that the chief minister wanted to prove his majority at the earliest lest the AIADMK MLAs should realise the political depravity of the chief minister reporting to a convict lodged in a jail.

Who is responsible for the violence in the House? Counterfactually, the Governor could have demanded the release of captive legislators ahead of the House proceedings. He could have asked the CM to test his strength after 10 days and within 15 days. The speaker could have allowed secret voting. He could also have allowed the media the freedom to cover the proceedings. Such transparency would have made the DMK members think twice before pouncing on the Speaker. DMK MLAs could have conducted themselves with dignity. The CM could have announced that he would act independently and would not be remotely controlled.

Bedlam has two meanings. It is a scene of uproar and confusion. It also means an institution for the care of mentally ill people. We now know what the TN Assembly is.

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