It was Friday afternoon and there were 96 members of parliament present in the Lok Sabha House. A little unusual for a Friday afternoon, but there is a good reason. Shashi Tharoor’s private member bill on the rights of gay had to be outvoted!
The MPs began shouting ‘No, No’ even before the voting began. It was disgraceful to see them shouting ‘Tharoor ko zyada zaroorat hai is bill ki’ (Tharoor needs this bill more). The underlying message was vulgar, implying that Tharoor needed a man to love…
These are the members of parliament elected by us to run this country of 1.2 billion people. Shashi Tharoor is fighting for everyone’s right to sexual preference, for the granting of fundamental rights and a life of dignity to people having different sexual choices. The Bill was not even debated, and rejected at the introduction level. The 71 nos and 24 yes reflected the parliament’s intolerance, but I want to stay optimistic and thank the 24 yeses…it gives hope for amendment of the article 377.
The ruling party, BJP, has been speaking in two voices on decriminalising homosexuality. Rajnath Singh, the home minister, has opposed legalising gay sex, while the finance minister, Arun Jaitley, has supported a move to amend article 377. There is no cohesion of thought process in a party that is under scrutiny for its culture of tolerance, or intolerance.
There are 284 MPs belonging to the BJP-led NDA government, and if Prime Minister Narendra Modi and top leaders like Arun Jaitley effectively stood up for legalising consensual gay sex, there is no reason why anyone make a hullaballoo.
Even before Arun Jaitley could support the bill, the back benchers stood up, shouting slogans of NO, NO, and mocked Tharoor! Prime Minister Modi has long been expected to take matters into his own personal hands. If he is too busy, which he appears to be, he can direct his right-hand man, Amit Shah, to shut out dissenting, ancient noises. Discipline is missing in the party, and if it continues, Modi’s dream of a ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ will never see the light of day.