Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu today said the stalling the functioning of the Parliament and legislatures was tantamount to subverting democracy and betraying people.
Speaking after presenting ‘Democracy Awards’ at a function organized by the Maharashtra State Election Commission in Mumbai, Vice President Naidu, who is the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, said that he was deeply distressed by the behaviour of some sections in the Rajya Sabha during the last two years.
He was pained when members disregard rules and conventions leading to pandemonium in the House. The members of the Rajya Sabha have a special responsibility to lead by example. If MPs and MLAs resort to slogan-shouting and disrupting the proceedings, they would be rendering a disservice to Parliamentary democracy, he added.
Expressing his anguish over the objectionable comments made by a member of the Lok Sabha about a woman presiding officer, Vice President Naidu said it was not in our culture to disrespect women. Such behaviour would demean our parliamentary democracy, he added.
Pointing out that the ruling and opposition parties should not treat each other as enemies or adversaries, the Vice President said that respecting the mandate of the people and allowing the governments of the day to deliver as per the mandate must be an essential principle of functioning of legislatures.
Observing that both ruling and opposition parties have a shared responsibility in ensuring effective functioning of the Parliament and legislatures, Vice President Naidu urged them to adopt a spirit of mutual respect and accommodation.
On the devolution of powers to local bodies as mandated by the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments, he said that even though 26 years have lapsed since they were constitutionally empowered, the devolution seems to be less than satisfactory.
The Vice President urged all the States to review the progress made on transferring 29 subjects to them and added “Any further delay would be tantamount to violating the constitutional mandate.
Stressing the need for devolving adequate funds, functions and functionaries—three Fs—to empower the Panchayati raj bodies, Vice President Naidu said democracy would be more meaningful and robust when people participate in their own affairs.
Referring to the 150th birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi this year, Vice President Naidu reminded that Mahatma Gandhi was the biggest votary of decentralization of powers and believed that every village has to be responsible for its own affairs.
He said it was absolutely essential for a fully functional and responsive grass-roots level governance system to further strengthen the democratic foundations in the country.
The Vice President also advocated the need to make it mandatory for holding elections to local bodies every five years without giving scope to state governments to postpone them.