Sun, 06 May 2012 19:56:02 GMT

Parliament was treated like a temple once, recalls veteran from first Lok Sabha

New Delhi: The discipline of parliament has been lost with sloganeering and noisy scenes replacing patient debates, feels veteran parliamentarian Rishang Keishing, 91, who was a member of the first Lok Sabha and recalls the time when parliament was like "a temple and the speaker its priest".

Parliament was treated like a temple once, recalls veteran from first Lok Sabha

As Lok Sabha completes 60 years next Sunday, May 13, Keishing, presently a Rajya Sabha member from Manipur, remembers how veterans waited for their turn to speak, and the decision of the chair was considered the last word - "treated with respect".

"There is a gulf of difference in the parliament then and now. The way things are going, discipline has been lost... It is not good for the nation," Keishing told IANS in an interview.

Seated on a sofa in a simply decorated room at his Talkatora Road residence, Keishing smilingly recalled the old days when parliament was seen as a temple by parliamentarians. Adorning the walls are some pictures, including one of his wedding, while a few potted plants add to the calmness of the atmosphere.

"When I joined the Lok Sabha, all eminent leaders from the freedom struggle were there...," he said, recalling the names of the first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, first Lok Sabha Speaker G.V. Mavalankar, and others like Jan Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee, N.C. Chatterjee and Acharya Kripalani and others.

"They were all great leaders...Parliament at that time was like a temple and the speaker, with his Gandhi cap, looked like a priest," he said.

The veteran recalled the debate when states were being formed, citing it as an example of tolerance and discipline at that time, which he finds missing now.

"When the states were being recognised, members could have shouted, as happens now... After all, someone's territory was going in some state... But they took it very calmly," he said.

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