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PM for serious introspection on house functioning

New Delhi: Sounding a word of caution, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today called for serious introspection on the way the Parliament functions as daily disruptions can only lead to public disenchantment. Calling for serious introspection, Singh said the manner in which Parliamentarians have conducted themselves, especially over the past couple of years, has created a sense of frustration and disillusionment among the people.

"The daily routine of disruptions, adjournments and shouting in the House are leading many outside to question the efficacy of this institution and its place in public affairs," he said addressing the Lok Sabha. Asking every MP to lead by example to restore the prestige of this institution, Singh said "we need to resolve that the Rules of Procedure and Conduct that we have collectively evolved would be honoured in letter and spirit."

"Unless we can find some way to resolve the growing impasse in the functioning of Parliament, public disenchantment will only grow," the Prime Minister said. Singh said the leaders of political parties should sit together to find ways to raise issues, small or big, and air differences in a manner that does not stall Parliament at every occasion.

His remarks come at a time when the country has witnessed some social initiatives taking up campaigns on matters of public interest and often lampooning the political class. "I believe that we should also reflect on how we should conduct the affairs of the State in which each of us plays a responsible role," Singh said.

Democracy is based on the notion of a popular mandate, but it should not be construed as a populist mandate, Singh said adding that a mature democracy was one that balanced the daily pressures of politics against the long-term needs of development.

"These conflicting demands, between the here and now of electoral politics, and the requirements of the long run that development imposes, can be and must be balanced," he said. He said Parliamentarians have a sacred and solemn responsibility to the people who have elected their leaders.

"But equally we bear a moral responsibility to do what is right by the generations still to come. We must therefore always keep in mind that our conduct and the actions we take here today determine the state of the nation we will bequeath to our children and grandchildren," he said.

Singh said the Lok Sabha was a true representation of the unique diversity and genius of the Indian people and its members come from every region, community, religion and strata of society. "This august chamber has scripted the development of our nation through debate and discourse tempered by the twin imperatives of idealism and pragmatism," he said.

The Prime Minister noted that in times of calamity or crisis, Parliament has always demonstrated the ability to reflect the collective resolve of the nation and show solidarity with the people and the government. "Be it the external aggressions of 1962, 1965, 1999 or the glorious moments of 1971 this institution surmounted political partisanship to reflect the common aspirations and sentiments of our people," Singh said.

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