Dissent needed, but not disruption: Om Birla

Dissent needed, but not disruption: Om Birla

Birla called upon legislators to “rethink” about making democratic institutions more accountable to the people

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla. Credit: PTI Photo

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Friday said dissent is necessary in the parliamentary system, but termed as “wrong” any attempts to disrupt legislature proceedings.

Birla was addressing a joint session of the state legislature in the Assembly, a first for a Lok Sabha Speaker. Birla’s audience consisted of BJP and JD(S) lawmakers. The Congress, the principal Opposition, boycotted it. 

“Opposition, dissent, arguments and protests are all necessary in a parliamentary democracy. But, it is wrong to indulge in sloganeering or unruly behaviour and not let the House function,” he said. 

Birla called upon legislators to “rethink” on making democratic institutions more accountable to the people. 

“Legislature is the soul of democracy. It can be made more responsible when it takes up discussions in the interest of people. Legislators play a key role because the legislature makes laws in response to the aspirations of people. We see that the amount of participation required in lawmaking is not there. This is a concern,” he lamented. He advised all parties to “sit together and come up with a workable plan” to maximise participation of legislators in the lawmaking process. 

Soon after Birla began his speech, there were calls by some JD(S) members for him to speak in Kannada. One of them even flashed the red-and-yellow Karnataka flag. 

Anubhava Mantapa

Earlier, Legislative Council chairperson Basavaraj Horatti submitted a petition addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Birla requesting one of the new Parliament buildings to be named as Anubhava Mantapa to honour social reformers Basavanna and Allama Prabhu. 

Assembly Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri, in his address, lamented that the Congress boycotted the joint session. “This session is convened by Horatti and me. We are carrying out constitutional responsibilities. It’s disappointing that Congress did not show up despite requests,” he said. 

Speaking to reporters, Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah said there is no provision for a Lok Sabha Speaker to address a joint session of both Houses. “Tomorrow, they may invite (RSS chief) Mohan Bhagwat. Can we keep quiet,” he asked. “Only Presidents and Governors can address joint sessions.” 

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