E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: The Secretary to Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee was quite clear what his boss wanted when they were making plans for renovating Parliament. Somnath had spent days at a stretch with the architects, security personnel, inspected every new furniture and accessories.
A few of us were lucky when we were taken around Lok Sabha which looked spankingly new.
The secretary explained the safety features.
“The microphones have been permanently fixed. No MP will be able to yank them off the desk as before and aim at his opponent’s head during debate. They have been screwed all the way to the ground. Further, the moment an MP touches the microphone it will give him an electric shock, which will keep him dazed rest of the day.”
“That’s very clever. What about the chairs which they use like volleyball?” I asked.
“The chairs have been screwed to the floor. Nobody will be able to lift the chair and throw it at another member or for that matter at the speaker,” said the LS Secretary.
“That should be a big relief to the Speaker.”
“There’s something more. Listen to this:
‘Are you not ashamed to behave like this? Even school students behave better!’
‘Please sit down, I say! How many times should I tell you! I am sick and tired of your behaviour…”
“We are setting a wrong example to the children of our country by behaving like hooligans. Sit down and allow the Prime Minister to speak!”
The secretary continued, ‘These messages will play automatically when the Speaker touches these buttons. Since he has to repeat this every hour or so, we thought we should record and store it so that he could use whichever dialogue he wants. Mr Chatterjee was trained by Amitabh Bachchan to dub these lines. None of the MPs, including Shabana Azmi, Jaya Bachchan, Jayaprada and Hemamalini, can make out it is a recording. This has greatly helped in controlling Somnathdada’s BP!”‘
“How do you control when they use foul language in the House?”
“With help from Speakers from Andhra, Haryana and U.P. where MLAs and Ministers often tend to remember mothers and sisters and give MC-BC gaalis we have installed a sensor in the microphone which automatically shuts off the audio when they utter these words. The member will look foolish while making a speech without being heard!”
“That’s wonderful. How do you save the Speaker when members rush to the Well of the House during ‘Zero Hour’?”
“Well, we have actually set up a well here. Those who rush to the well of the House will land in -1 from Ground Zero, dripping all over the floor. There is a canteen there. Once they dry off and have lunch they can come back to the House and resume their sleep.”
“If some diehard MPs jump the well to have a go at the Speaker, then what happens?”
“Nothing. Speaker will adjourn the House, simultaneously pushing this lever. Here, try this.”
I felt earth giving away as suddenly a chute sucked me into an air-conditioned room which had a bed, a TV, opening to a nice garden.
The chief protocol officer asked me, “Welcome, sir. You are in -2. Would you like to have a drink before lunch? When this happens during session, the Speaker will spend couple of hours before everything becomes normal. We expect him here one of these days.”