Quotes From Parliament
By Nirendra Dev
NEW DELHI (IANS) – Let’s take a closer look at some highlights and lesser talked-about anecdotes from the Indian parliament.
On August 3, 2011, then Law Minister Salman Khurshid, otherwise known Sonia Gandhi loyalist, was so overwhelmed by the allotment of key portfolio of Law and Justice to him he chose to compare Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as an asset to the core value of a ‘Maa or mother’ in a man’s life. Khurshid quoted from the conversation between Shashi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan in the film ‘Deewar’, where the former says: “You may have everything, but I have a mother.” Khurshid said: “Similarly, BJP may have everything with them, but we have Manmohan Singh.” He said under Singh’s leadership India has been able to brave economic challenges and emerge as a “role model”.
During the debate on price rise, BJP lawmaker Yashwant Sinha took a potshot at Singh, and said: “Jo chunao nahi larte … woh sukhi hae (Those who do not contest elections (for Lok Sabha) are fortunate)”.
When Gurudas Dasgupta called Anna Hazare ‘a pretender’ of a Father of the nation
The Lok Sabha had a date with history on December 22 of circa 2011 as it took up in greater detail the matters concerning the much talked about anti-corruption Lokpal Bill. The draft law was introduced in the lower house of Parliament amid strong protests by a sizeable section of members. In the high drama that preceded the introduction of the Lokpal Bill in Lok Sabha, the chief campaigner of the proposed Ombudsman to fight corruption menace, Anna Hazare, was subjected to severe criticism. The most emphatic observation against Anna Hazare came from veteran Parliamentarian and CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta. The government need not be afraid of “somebody – who pretends to be another Father of the Nation,” he said without naming anyone. “There is only one Father of the nation,” Dasguta waxed eloquently.
On Feb 24, 2016, there is Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani’s fiery response to the debate on the death of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula. This is what she said: “Political parties are busy trying to use the death of a child (Rohith Vemula) as a political weapon. The committee that suspended Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula was not constituted by our government but by the UPA regime. I looked at the case as the death of a child and not as the death of a Dalit. My name is Smriti Irani. I challenge you to identify my caste. I am enraged by the way a child’s death (Rohith Vemula) is being used as a political weapon. I am taking it personally, Sir. I’ll tell you how the entire incident has been used as a political tool.”
During the Rajya Sabha debate on the Lokpal Bill on August 27, 2011, the Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley (now deceased) recalled LM Singhvi’s contribution and said, “it is a coincidence that his very distinguished son Abhishek Singhvi (of Congress) now has to prepare the final draft of this bill”. As the Congress MP grinned, Jaitley said: “I am sure he will keep in mind the great heritage, not only his personal but also of this concept and strengthen this, Bill.” Senior Singhvi had campaigned ceaselessly for a Lokpal bill from 1963 to 1967, but since he was an independent MP, he could not get any legislation through. An eminent jurist and author, late LM Singhvi was also the longest-serving High Commissioner for India in the UK from 1991–97.
Manmohan Singh had flayed Narendra Modi’s demonetization move. He had said on November 24, 2016: “The Prime Minister has been arguing that this is the way to curb black money, to prevent growth of (counterfeit) currency notes and also to help in control of terrorist finance activities. I do not disagree with these objectives, but what I do want to point out is that in the process of demonetization, monumental mismanagement has been undertaken, upon which today there are no two opinions in the country. Even those who say that ‘this measure will do harm or will cause distress in the short run but is in the interest of the country in the long run’, I am reminded of John Keynes, who once said: ‘In the long run, we are all dead.’
It is said one of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s best speeches has been the obit for Jawaharlal Nehru. “Sir, a dream has been shattered, a song silenced, a flame has vanished in the infinite. It was the dream of a world without fear and without hunger, it was the song of an epic that had the echo of the Gita and the fragrance of the rose. It was the flame of a lamp that burnt all night, fought with every darkness, showed us the way, and one morning attained Nirvana. Death is certain, the body is ephemeral. The golden body that we consigned yesterday to the funeral pyre of sandalwood was bound to end. But did death have to come so stealthily? When friends were asleep and guards were slack, we were robbed of a priceless gift of life,” Vajpayee had said.
‘Parkati Mahilayen’ – that’s how Sharad Yadav opposed Women’s Quota Bill The Women’s Quota Bill was almost done but for the troika of Sharad Yadav (JD-U), Mulayam Singh Yadav (Samajwadi Party) and Lalu Prasad (RJD). Sharad Yadav even vowed in Lok Sabha to end his life by taking poison to prevent the passage of the Bill without a quota for Dalits and backward castes. The Congress-led UPA government came close to making women’s reservation a reality by passing the Bill in the Rajya Sabha in 2010 but the draft law was stalled in the Lok Sabha. Sharad Yadav in 1997 said the Women’s Quota Bill favored only ‘par kati mahilayen (women with short hair). “Kaun mahila hai, kaun nahin hai, keval bal kati aur parkati mahila bhar nahin rahne denge (Who is a woman, who is not, only short-haired women won’t be allowed).”
(Dev is the author of the books ‘The Talking Guns: North East India’, and ‘Modi to Moditva: An Uncensored Truth’)