For a healthier parliamentary discourse

The recent debacle in the National Council discourse, whereby a member was shown the door after the Chairman found him to have contravened the decorum of the august hall has come as a new revelation for all those who have been following the democratic deliberations since 2008.

While such moves in a parliamentary session are a norm in most democracies across the world, the fact that it is a first for Bhutan made most of the viewers uneasy that they immediately started taking sides with nitizens pouring their views, and disgust, in almost all social media platforms.

Even as nitizens and naysayers started flooding their views, the larger picture as to how such differences and debate are the crucial vein of any democratic discourse was largely missed. Differences of opinions and bitter-sweet discourses are part of any healthy democracy and our citizens should not be awed by a simple development as in a member being sent out from a house for a difference in opinion.

And the fact that observers begin to draw conclusions and start taking sides, adding salt to the fresh wound, doesn’t help in the overall outcome of the discourse either. However, observers and nitizens alike’s take on this particular issue this time was grounded on the fact that the particular MP who was removed from the discourse had a point to prove.

It all began with the issue of housing allowance raise for the lower rung of the civil service ladder which didn’t interest any other member except for the lone MP. And, it came close on the heels of MPs deliberating on the Duty Vehicle perks which didn’t go well with the citizens and hence the uproar.

Our citizens who have been, and are, following the democratic discourses closely are often amazed at the zest with which our parliamentarians debate on their perks while, on the contrary, pleads that the common man must tighten their belts as the country is facing a financial crunch and trying times such as today.

Hence, the sudden outburst from the citizenry when the lone MP, who was seemingly fighting for the rights of the lesser paid public servants, was removed from the house. Then followed the issue of communication allowance raise for eligible public servants, here those on the higher rung of the civil service ladder, which didn’t bode well and instead added fuel to the raging fire.

While such differences in opinion and debate are a norm for any healthy discourse, our dear MPs and ministers should also be wary of the fact that the common man is watching these discourses as it also matters them all.

Simply deliberating on MPs additional perks, while dismissing a lone member’s plea for smaller raise to uplift the downtrodden, will never go well with the common man’s sentiments.

Nonetheless, as they say, the show must go on.