Arvind Kejriwal alleged that all the parties are responsible for bringing Parliament to disrepute as 162 MPs with criminal background have managed to get into it. “How can one respect an institution, which has members with a criminal background,” he said in a four-page reply to the breach of privilege motion
Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal courted fresh controversy in February by saying that “rapists, murderers and looters” were sitting in parliament. The comments made during an election campaign rally prompted a backlash from political parties across the board which described the comments as disgusting and an insult to democracy. The RJD said that it would bring a privilege motion against the activist in the Budget session of Parliament.
Mr Kejriwal, however, stuck to his stand and pointed out that one-third of the MPs (members of parliament) were facing criminal charges. In an interview to a television news channel, he said, “I am ready to face charges. I have not said anything wrong. Team Anna is against corruption and not against Parliament, and people who are facing corruption charges will not pass the Lokpal bill.”
Congress MP Sajjan Singh Verma, RJD MPs Rajniti Prasad and Ram Kripal Yadav on 19th March served a privilege notice against Mr Kejriwal for calling MPs rapists, murderers and looters.
Replying to the breach of privilege notice, Mr Kejriwal said in a letter to Mukul Pande, director, Rajya Sabha Secretariat, “How can one respect an institution, which has as many as 162 members with a criminal background.”
The Team Anna member added, “There was a parliament in which (former prime minister) Lal Bahadur Shastri resigned (from the post of railway minister) following a train accident. I would sacrifice anything for such a parliament, but how will I respect Parliament of present days.”
Mr Kejriwal alleged that all the parties are responsible for bringing Parliament to disrepute as 162 MPs with criminal background have managed to get into it. “In 2009, Congress gave tickets to 117 people with a criminal background out which 44 got elected. At the same, BJP gave tickets to 116 such people, out of which 44 got elected. Other parties were also in the forefront in giving tickets to tainted people,” said the letter written to the director, Rajya Sabha Secretariat.
He also alleged that industrialists, who were not known for any public service, have managed to get into parliament with the help of various parties. He cited the example of Vijay Mallya. “They enter parliament to further their business interest. If this is not misuse of parliament, if this is not insult to Parliament then what is it”?
“... Like parliament, assemblies are also sacred temples of democracy. If some MLAs and a women and child development minister watch porn openly in assembly, you tell me, how can I respect those MLAs,” he said.
Touching upon alleged horse-trading during trust vote in 2008 when UPA-I was in power, he alleged, “MPs were bought openly. People witnessed the spectacle of MPs being bought in this sacred temple of democracy... Was it less than treason? How will I respect this parliament,” he said.
Here is the text of the letter:
Shri Mukul Pande
Rajya Sabha Secretariat
I have received the notices sent by you from Sri Rajniti Prasad and Prof Ramkripal Yadav in which I am accused of insulting the Parliament.
I unequivocally deny that I have insulted the parliament in either speech or deed. I respect parliament immensely. I revere the parliament immensely. I consider parliament as a temple of democracy. For these reasons, I am immensely worried and pained that this temple of democracy is insulted very often by the speech and deeds of a few people who sit inside the parliament.
Various facts and instances show that parliament is insulted by a few people sitting inside the parliament rather than by people outside. I respect the parliament, many good parliamentarians, but find myself unable to respect a few parliamentarians.
Recently, a movie called “Pan Singh Tomar” was released. A dialogue from this film says rebels live in outback and dacoits live in parliament. I watched this film three times. The audience clapped whenever the hero uttered this dialogue. I was immensely pained each time I listened to the ovation. Why is that when the hero referred to dacoits in parliament, people felt that he was reflecting the sentiments of the people of this nation. Its worth contemplating as to what went wrong that the people of this nation have such an anger and disdain towards people sitting in parliament? Who is responsible for this impression about the parliament? The people of this nation or the people sitting in parliament? The respect of parliamentarians is not diminished by what is said about them. Their respect is commanded by their conduct and behaviour.
The present Lok Sabha has 162 parliamentarians on whom 522 criminal issues are lodged. Out of these, 76 are heinous crimes. Murder cases on 14, attempt to murder cases on 20, fraud charges on 11, kidnapping charges on 13. In addition to these, there are many parliamentarians on whom corruption charges are lodged. Example: Suresh Kalmadi, A Raja, Kanimozhi, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, etc., If Jan LokPal would have been in existence, then a few more would have been charge sheeted. In this context please enlighten me weather the presence of such people enhances the dignity of parliament or reduces it? A few of the above are such that one would rather avoid inviting them to their homes for marriages and festivals. Is not the parliament insulted by the presence of such parliamentarians?
Why were such people given tickets? All parties pro-actively give tickets to people with criminal backgrounds and each successive election has seen an increase in them getting elected. In 2004 elections, 128 people in Lok Sabha were with criminal backgrounds. In 2009 elections their number went up to 162. By this progression, the day is not far when the majority of the parliament will consist of people with criminal background. Hence, we should not be surprised when the audience gives an ovation to the hero who says dacoits are in parliament.
All parties are responsible for bringing the parliament to this. In 2009, Congress gave tickets to 117 people with criminal background, out of which 44 got elected. BJP gave tickets to 116 people with criminal background, out of which 44 got elected. Other parties too have proactively given tickets to the tainted. The court has charge sheeted a good many of them with heinous crimes. What was the compulsion of these parties? Did not the parties insult the parliament by giving them tickets? Should not the parties be punished for insulting the parliament? It is being said that presently, they are merely accused. Charges have not been proved in court.
The case is pending. My answer to this is that these cases will never end. A single judgment takes more than thirty years in this country to be pronounced. Why is our country’s justice delivery mechanism so lethargic and procrastinating? The parliamentarians were supposed to correct this anomaly. Why didn’t they correct it in the last 65 years? Was it not done on purpose? Was it because if it was corrected, swift justice delivery would have been possible and most of such people would be incarcerated in jails? Is not the doubt strengthened then that, till such time these people sit in parliament, our justice delivery mechanism will not be reformed? Is not the apprehension valid that till such time people like these are in parliament, crime will not come down in our country? Please tell me how can I respect parliamentarians like these?
It is correct that these people are merely charged at present. The charges are not yet proven. Cases are pending. It is possible that twenty years later, the courts may pronounce them innocent. Alternatively, it is also possible that twenty years later, many of these may be held guilty by the court. In such a scenario, isn’t this a cause for immense worry that this nation’s laws were framed by murderers, kidnappers and fraudsters? You say that I have insulted the parliament. I respect the parliament immensely but can you explain to me the rationale of respecting such parliamentarians?
There was a parliament in which Shri Lalbahadur Shastri resigned in the wake of a single train accident. One feels the urge to submit everything at the altar of such a parliament. But how can I respect a parliament with the present composition?
On 29th December 2011, during the Lokpal Bill discussion, RJD parliamentarian Rajniti Prasad snatched the Bill from the hands of the Hon’ble minister, tore it and threw it. Was not the parliament insulted by this act? If we see parliament as a temple of democracy, isn’t the presiding deity insulted by tearing the Gita in such a temple? It was too much that not a single parliamentarian stood up to protest this tearing of the Bill. The chairperson too was mute. Why this speechlessness by those who swear by the parliament? This was not the first such instance. Many bills have been torn in this temple of democracy. But not one person has been punished ever. Don’t you think that Shri Rajniti Prasad should be punished severely for tearing away the Bill inside parliament? Such an exemplary punishment that no parliamentarian dare ever to tear away any bill inside the parliament in the future.
Rajya Sabha has many industrialist parliamentarians who have no connection whatsoever to people or public service. A good many industrialists enter the Rajya Sabha in the wake of their money-power and tickets given by various parties. People like these misuse the parliament to further their industry. Shri Vijay Mallya is the owner of Kingfisher. It is not known that he has done any public service. He is the member of the parliamentary standing committee on civil aviation. He decides the civil aviation policy of this nation. So, it is but natural that he will frame such policies that benefit Kingfisher enormously. Isn’t this a direct misuse of parliament? Rajya Sabha has a cluster of such parliamentarians who misuse the parliament directly to further the cause of their respective industries. Isn’t this misuse of parliament an insult to the parliament?
Cash for Questions in parliament came to light. This was a grave insult to parliament. But such parliamentarians were merely sacked. Giving or taking bribe is a criminal offence. Such people ought to have been jailed when proven guilty. The fact that they were sacked demonstrates that they were guilty. Why weren’t they jailed? Why were they let off by mere sacking? For such a grave insult to the parliament, if they were to be exemplarily punished, future parliamentarians would not have dared to try insulting parliament again. Since they were let off lightly, the 2008 open horse-trading of parliamentarians was repeated. People saw buying and selling of parliamentarians in the holy temple of democracy. The collective conscience of the nation cried.
Democracy wept. Parliament shed tears. But the government survived. Not a single parliamentarian has been punished till date. Was this not akin to treason? Isn’t trading of parliamentarians considered as treason? How can I respect such parliamentarians?
Microphones have been uprooted and thrown innumerable times in the parliament. Chairs are hurled at each other. How can I respect such parliamentarians? On one hand 8 Bills are passed without discussion in 17 minutes and on the other hand, there is daily disruption by parliamentarians which results in parliamentary business being stalled.
The nation is struggling against corruption and price rise. Common man is finding survival difficult. Farmers are committing suicides. Whistleblowers against corruption are being murdered. People are writhing. On these issues the parliament is either quiet or semantics are delivered. These problems which have beset our nation for years have not been addressed. As a thumb-rule, there is no unanimity in the parliament on these issues. The issues linger on in standing committees, people writhe in agony.
Oddly, on any issue regarding parliamentarians all parties unite. When a parliamentarian among them Shri Sharad Pawar is slapped, (slapping was wrong, should not have been slapped) all parliamentarians writhed. All parties got united. All leaders denounced this for two hours. Whenever there is an issue of increase of allowance to parliamentarians, their comforts, perks, we see instant unanimity among parties. All parties unite against the use of an idiom (Chor kii daadhii me tinkaa). This tiny idiom hurt the parties so much that parliament discussed this issue for hours. All these instances force us to contemplate – aren’t a few parliamentarians more concerned about their self-interests rather than the people?
Along with parliament, legislative assemblies too are temples of democracy. In such a temple if some legislature and the child & women development minister of that state watch porn publicly, please tell me how can I respect such legislatures?
Its not that this parliament doesn’t have good parliamentarians. Many good parliamentarians exist. And I respect them immensely. But the voice of such good parliamentarians is drowned in the cacophony of the parliament.
I have raised a few fundamental questions on the notice received to my statement. The same constitution that gives powers to parliamentarians to enact laws gives the people the power to ask questions to the parliamentarians. Questions are raised weather the parliament that is comprised of so many criminally tainted parliamentarians can ever enact an efficient law to end crime? If the parliament which is comprised of so many people with corruption charges can ever enact a good anti-corruption law. A law which, if enacted will create problems for some parliamentarians? During the Jan Lokpal movement, the people of this country came down to the streets demanding an effective law. People have started asking questions when the government and the parliament seemed reluctant to enact such a law. People have a question whether Jan Lokpal Bill will be enacted?
All these make it clear that the parliament is insulted not by me but continuously by a few people sitting inside. By those on whom the people put their faith and future. I just stated the facts. I have not stated anything wrong. I just raised the queries of the people. If in the eyes of your law, I am guilty, I am ready to be punished under such a law. If you find me guilty under your law, my request would be to give me an opportunity to present myself in person to air my views.
403, Girnar, Kaushambi
Gaziabad, Uttar Pradesh