I was first elected to Parliament in April 1970, as a member of the Rajya Sabha. Since then, except for two years, 1996-1997, when I did not contest the Lok Sabha polls of 1996 in pursuance of my declaration not to go back to Parliament until I was judicially absolved of the false hawala charge leveled against me, I have been an M.P. now for more than forty years (three terms in the Rajya Sabha and six terms in the Lok Sabha).
In these fortyone years of my Parliamentary life I have never before seen any Government messing up a Parliament Session so horribly as the U.P.A. Government has done this time with the current Monsoon session.
A three week session was announced. The first week has ended. On not a single day could either question hour, or any other business, be transacted. It has been a daily pandemonium for the entire week. And the pandemonium was created principally by Congressmen belonging to Andhra – protesting against Telangana and demanding that A.P. remains united.
The main factor that has contributed to this first week’s total wash out is the announcement made about Telangana. BJP members kept pleading with the Government to restrain their own party members but there was no evidence of even an attempt being made in that direction! One wonders how the ruling party plans to conduct business in the remaining two weeks of the session.
Without going into the decades long history of the Telangana movement, let me recall that on December 9, 2009, shortly after the U.P.A. Government commenced its second term, the then Union Home Minister Shri P. Chidambaram announced that the Government of India would start the process of forming a separate state of Telangana pending the introduction and passage of a resolution to that effect in the State Assembly.
Everyone presumed that within the Congress Party all necessary discussion and consultations must have taken place. But the announcement resulted in protests across both Andhra and Rayalseema. On December 23, 2009 Government of India made another announcement that no action on Telangana would be taken until a consensus among all parties is reached.
This meant a reversal of the Home Minister’s statement. What has happened now is making the people of Telangana feel that the announcement before the session has been made only to influence the coming elections and that they are again being taken for a ride by the ruling party.
I remember how smooth was the creation of three new states – Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand – during the NDA regime. The three states U.P., M.P. and Bihar out of which these new entities were carved out passed resolutions in favour of the new states, and the two Houses of Parliament with near unanimity passed the necessary enactments. All this could be achieved because the BJP was earnest about these new states, and the necessary groundwork had been done.
The BJP was in favour of Telangana even then but because one of the supporting parties of our Government at that time, namely, the TDP, was not in favour, so our government did not even talk about the matter.
Because of the mishandling of the Telangana issue, the Parliament Session has till now proved utterly barren. But a serious tragedy occurred last week on the L.O.C., which has inflicted irreparable damage on the reputation of this government – particularly because of the goof-up on the day of the tragedy itself by Defence Minister A.K. Antony.
I would say that if the Pak army ambushed our jawans on the L.O.C. and killed five of them, the Indian Parliament, upset with Antony’s statement, ambushed the Defence Minister and forced him to take back his wishy-washy version of the first day, and replace it with another statement, fully reflecting the national mood of anger against Pakistan.
What was astounding about the Defence Minister’s initial statement in Parliament was that he consciously made changes in the official version issued by the Army about the incident – changes aimed at absolving the Pak Government and the Pak army from having anything to do with the attack.
Sample this one alteration made in the Army’s version :
The PIB (Defence Wing) Press Release said: “The ambush was carried out by approximately 20 heavily armed terrorists along with soldiers of Pak Army.” Defence Minister Antony said: “The ambush was carried out by approximately 20 heavily armed terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistan Army uniforms”
Even before the current session of Parliament commenced, the media reported a seemingly PMO inspired news report that the P.M. would be holding talks with Nawaz Sharif, and that too without the rider of 26/11 – meaning that there would be no insistence on the culprits behind the terrorist attack on Mumbai being revealed. Parliament therefore was happy to find that the revised version of Antony’s statement on August 8 said that “Pakistan should also show determined action to dismantle the terrorist networks organization and infrastructure and show tangible movement on bringing those responsible for the Mumbai terrorist attack in November 2008 to justice quickly”.
This revised version of the Minister’s statement made to Parliament after the Chief of the Army staff visited the area of occurrence and reported to him the full facts warned Pakistan in the following words :
“Naturally, this incident will have consequences on our behaviour on the Line of Control and for our relations with Pakistan. Our restraint should not be taken for granted; nor should the capacity of our Armed Forces and resolve of the Government to uphold the sanctity of the L.C. ever be doubted.”
11 August, 2013