Assam MLA suspended for clanging cymbals in House

The temple of democracy isn’t a temple where the gods need to be woken up with cymbals. An Assam MLA thought differently, only to find himself expelled from the assembly. Speaker Tanka Bahadur Rai on Friday expelled Prasanta Phukan (BJP) for clanging cymbals - a mid-sized pair traditionally used in
an Assamese namghar (neighbourhood Vaishnavite prayer hall).

Phukan had joined some 40 Opposition MLAs in disrupting House proceedings for the fourth successive day, demanding discussion on a tribal council scam allegedly being avoided by the ruling Congress.

Amid the din, the MLA from Dibrugarh fished out the cymbals and clanged them hard in a bid to “wake up the Speaker and the treasury bench”. The inevitable expulsion followed.

“What else do you do when they don’t listen?” said Phukan, adding he wished he had louder instruments to jolt the House.

Known to be eccentric, Phukan had earlier moved about town in a bullock cart to protest fuel price rise. He also once carried a sack of vegetables on his shoulder to “augment my income by selling stuff costlier than gold”, he claimed.

The West Bengal assembly too has witnessed the use of musical instruments inviting censure. In 1996, that state’s Congress president Manas Bhuiyan and his colleagues had tried to disrupt the House proceedings with drums and metallic instruments to protest the Jyoti Basu government’s ‘misrule’