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Please don't make a mockery of poetry in the house, Javed Akhtar urges politicians

While poems are a favourite weapon in the armoury of parliamentarians, the choice of words and the recitation do leave a lot to be desired.

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Mayur Lookhar

Poet-lyricist-writer and former Rajya Sabha member Javed Akhtar has expressed dismay at the way politicians maul poetry in Parliament.

Members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance, the opposition Congress and other parties were involved in a 12-hour heated debate after the Telugu Desam Party moved a no-confidence motion against the government last week.

The motion was eventually defeated with 325 members voting against it in a house of 534 members.

During the debate which was the first act of the Lok Sabha in the current monsoon session, we had the likes of Aam Aadmi Party MP Bhagwant Mann attacking the ruling party and the prime minister's 'acche din' (good days) promise in his own poetic manner. 

Apart from Mann, Republic Party of India president Ramdas Athawale, whose party is an ally of the BJP, came up with his own funny poetic speech.

In his reply, Prime minister Modi quoted a verse from Bhuvaneshwar Prasad Dikshit, a poet from Amroha, Uttar Pradesh.

Despite so much poetry being cited in the course of the debate, Akhtar wasn’t happy. The veteran urged politicians not to make a mockery of poetry.

"With folded hands and utmost humility I want to request the MPs of all the parties in the Lok Sabha to at least have some mercy on poetry. Without any exception, each and every couplet recited during the 12-hour session was either wrongly worded, out of meter, or mispronounced,” he tweeted.

The use of poetry, wit and humour is common in the two houses of Parliament, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. In fact, the Lok Sabha website has a separate page devoted to poetry, wit and humour used in the house.

During an earlier session in the Rajya Sabha, prime minister Modi had recited lines from the great poet Nida Fazli’s ghazal Safar Main Dhoop To Hogi.

While making her speech during the discussion on the motion of thanks to the president for his address to the house on 7 February 2018, actress-turned-MP Hema Malini had quoted former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s poem Kadam Milake Chalna Hoga.

While Javed Akhtar is certainly among those better equipped to comment on the quality of the poetry used and its recitation, the use of poetry in Parliament has always been welcomed by the people.