Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said on Thursday evening that no words have been banned for use in either House after controversy erupted over an updated list of unparliamentary expressions, NDTV reported.
In a booklet issued by the Lok Sabha secretariat ahead of the Monsoon Session of Parliament, words such as “dictatorial”, “anarchist” and “Khalistani” were mentioned among those which would be considered unparliamentary in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, PTI reported on Wednesday.
Commonly-used words such as “ashamed”, “betrayed”, “corrupt” and “drama” can also be expunged from parliamentary records, according to the booklet. However, the Rajya Sabha chairperson and Lok Sabha Speaker will have the power to decide on whether to expunge words and expressions mentioned in the list, the booklet stated.
As Opposition leaders criticised the decision, Birla said at a press conference that no words have been banned and the list was just a compilation of words that have been taken off parliamentary records, reported NDTV.
“Earlier a book of such unparliamentary words used to be released... to avoid wastage of papers, we have put it on internet,” Birla said. “No words have been banned, we have issued a compilation of the words that have been expunged.”
The Speaker also reporters that the context in which the words deemed unparliamentary have been spoken would be considered before they are expunged from records. “How can words be considered unparliamentary if they are spoken in a good context,” he added.
Other words deemed unparliamentary
“Covid spreader”, “hypocrisy” and “Snoopgate” are also among the words that will be considered unparliamentary. The word “Snoopgate” emerged in the backdrop of earlier sessions of Parliament having been disrupted by Opposition members seeking an investigation into the alleged illegal surveillance of citizens using the Pegasus spyware.
The Lok Sabha secretariat has also said that the use of Hindi words and expressions such as “jumlajeevi”, “baal buddhi” and “Shakuni” in Parliament could be deemed unparliamentary, NDTV reported.
The word “jumla” broadly translates to an empty promise. Soon after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Amit Shah, who was then the Bharatiya Janata Party president, had said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made a “jumla” when he commented that Rs 15 lakh will be deposited to each Indian’s bank account if black money stashed in foreign banks could be brought back. Since then, Opposition leaders have often used the word to criticise the Modi-led government.
While “baal buddhi” refers to someone with the intelligence of a child, “Shakuni” is a reference to the character from the Mahabharata known for his scheming nature.
Other Hindi expressions that have been declared as unparliamentary are “dohra charitra [duplicitous character]”, nikamma [incompetent] and behri sarkar [deaf government]”.
‘Gag order’, says Opposition
The list of unparliamentary words and expressions drew sharp criticism from several Opposition leaders. Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra alleged that the Centre had banned all the words that the Opposition used to describe how the BJP was destroying India.
Another Trinamool Congress MP, Derek O’Brien, said he will use several of the words deemed to be unparliamentary even if he is suspended from the Rajya Sabha for doing so.
Several other Opposition leaders also criticised the Centre for including commonly-used words in the list of unparliamentary expressions.
“What is the point of Parliament if you can’t be creative in your criticism?” asked Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi. “Banning words is uncalled for.”
Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh asked: “What next vishguru?”.
Vishwaguru, which literally translates to world leader, is a term often used by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other Bharatiya Janata Party leaders to suggest that India’s stature in the global stage has improved under the current regime.
The Congress party’s official Twitter handle wrote in Hindi: “Who will be afraid of ‘Jumlajeevi’ –who has said jumlas. Who will be afraid of the word ‘Jaichand’ – who has betrayed the country. These words are not being banned in Parliament, the fear of PM Modi is coming out.”
Congress’ national spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill said the move is a “desperate attempt to control criticism and hard-hitting truth”.