New Delhi | September 12 2011|
Questions like these were pondered upon at “People, Parliament and Performance”- a discussion conducted by Social Watch India in partnership with Governance Now in the national capital on Saturday.
Opening the discussion, B V Rao, editor, Governance Now said that politicians and media people got away easily in the country. “Where is the people’s interface with politicians these days? This discussion is about the parameters on which one can rate the politicians,” said Rao.
Veteran CPI (M) leader Nilotpal Basu said that the media coverage of happenings in the Parliament was very crucial as the citizen forms an opinion based on what they see on television and read in newspapers. “The media has to review its role in the coverage of Parliament. Corruption was discussed thrice in the parliament. But there was no media coverage at all. When Anna Hazare sat on fast, it became national news and for days, we had nothing else as headlines in almost all the major newspapers!” said Basu.
“Media does not reflect the very important and valid questions raised by MPs in the Parliament,” he added.
Nirmala Sitharaman, national spokesperson of BJP said that there was a backlog in legislative process and the reason for the same was that the members of Parliament (MPs) are most of the times involved in addressing grievances of their constituencies. “I don’t think it’s their (MPs’) fault. The expectations from an MP, both social and emotional, have risen over time. Lok Sabha MPs have to micro-manage their constituencies. They cannot ignore it because the voters’ perception has become of the parameters to judge the Parliamentarian. The result is that the legislative business has been ignored in the last 60 years,” said she.
Nirmala added that various commission reports were lying with the MPs as they did not have enough time to go through them.
Jesudasu Seelam of Congress party expressed that there was a bias against backward communities both inside and outside the Parliament.
“Congress party’s interest is utmost important but safeguarding the interest of backward communities by various interventions within the Parliament or outside it is also important. There is a bias in terms of perception, reporting and assessment. There is no law in the country for disadvantaged groups. Denial of justice and denial or non-spending of funds for SC/ST should also come under corruption as should diversion of funds meant for SC/ST,” he said.
Sanjay Kumar, Centre for Study on Developing Societies expressed that the voters’ perception of the MP was crucial for any study analyzing the performance of MPs.
Manisha Priyam, senior lecturer at Delhi university and moderator of the discussion pressed for the need for the coverage of diverse issues on Lok Sabha television. The moderator also said, “Without equity of issues, growth has no meaning. We need vertical mobility where people come out and talk”.
Senior journalist Girish Nikam threw light on media coverage of the legislature. Nikam said that the media was more interested in the negative developments in the both the Houses. “In the last 10 years, media has started extensively covering the parliament, but still it is negative coverage. There are many MPs who put hell lot of serious effort and work tirelessly but their name doesn't come up and their work is not reflected,” said Nikam.
“There are few MPs who create the disturbances but the majority of MPs are seriously putting all their efforts to do good work. And that needs to be reflected,” he added.