'Singing, dancing' MPs told to change tune

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NEW DELHI - Indian Members of Parliament were scolded yesterday by the country's vice-president and prime minister for misbehaving, writes Tim McGirk. The Vice-President, K R Narayanan, warned that the MPs' unruly conduct was so bad that it posed a threat to India's parliamentary system. MPs and state assemblymen seem to have borrowed their etiquette from Hindi films which are full of song, dance and fisticuffs. Brawling, shouting, banging on tables and mobbing the house speaker, are all tactics that MPs have preferred to the mot juste to parry a parliamentary adversary.

Speaking at a two-day all-party conference called to examine the falling standards of parliamentary discipline, Mr Narayanan claimed that even such decorous occasions as the president's annual speech were 'rudely disturbed'. He described the Indian parliament as an 'unruly and rumbustious forum'. The Prime Minister, Narasimha Rao, said that regrettably, televising parliamentary debates had not improved the MPs' manners - only their dress.