Staff Correspondent

SHILLONG, Feb 25: Addressing the members of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly here today, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said that within the framework of Indian democracy, there could be dissent during discussions, but it should not create an impasse.

Encouraging “discussion, dialogue and meaningful debate in representative institutions”, Birla said, “The concept of democracy can fructify only when the persons at the last rung of society are benefited.”

The Lok Sabha Speaker, who arrived here today on a two-day visit, said that India has a rich legacy of democratic practices, adding that democracy has deep roots and the legacy of democratic participation has flourished in the country for thousands of years.

“India has set the example of democracy for the entire world. Hence, this glorious tradition has become the foundation of modern India after Independence,” Birla said.

Lauding the democratic norms in the country, the Speaker added that these norms have been “gaining ground all over the world” and has set Indian democracy as an “exemplary model”.

Highlighting the importance of representative institutions, he said that Parliament, Legislative Assemblies and local bodies are the “temples of democracy”, giving “voice to the hopes and aspirations” of the people.

“It is important for all these democratic institutions to work in coordination and harmony so that our collective responsibility towards the people is fulfilled,” the Speaker said.

On the COVID-19 pandemic, he said that even through these “challenging times”, Parliament and the Legislative Assemblies “worked in coordination and contributed to the efforts of the Government”.

“Democracy can be strengthened when all the Constitutional institutions work in tandem and cooperate with each other within their respective jurisdictions. All the institutions should complement each other,” Birla stated.

The Speaker also encouraged the legislators to use digital tools and said that use of virtual platforms would help in “bridging the digital divide and create a people-centric sustainable and development-oriented society”.

Suggesting briefing sessions for legislators similar to those organised in the Lok Sabha for Bills to be introduced, Birla said that these sessions would ensure a “substantive and constructive” debate on various subjects.

Assuring all help in setting up a modern research wing of the Meghalaya Assembly, Birla said that in the current session of Parliament, a similar service named PRISM (Parliamentary Research and Information Support for Members of Parliament) has been rolled out to provide round-the-clock research and information support to MPs.

Expressing happiness over progress in construction of the new building of the Meghalaya Assembly, Birla said the Meghalaya House would soon have its permanent building after a wait of 15 years.

The Speaker further said that the Election Commission has framed rules to bar people with criminal records from entering Constitutional institutions, and rules regarding educational qualifications and other aspects of elected representatives are being reviewed from time to time.

Meanwhile, Birla will also hold discussions with representatives from the autonomous district councils to strengthen these institutions.