This Article is From Aug 12, 2023

Opinion: 6 Former PMs And Their "Manipur" Moment In Parliament

A Summary of the Monsoon Session of Parliament.

Lok Sabha. MIA for 21 days, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was compelled to speak on Manipur on 10 August. I use the word 'compelled', because it took a No-Confidence Motion to drag him there to do this. And he only deigned to talk about Manipur for four minutes, one-and-a-half hours into his lacklustre speech.

Rajya Sabha. An entire session went by and the Prime Minister was absconding. He did not spend even 10 seconds in the House referred to as the Council of States.

Since Independence, no other Prime Minister has insulted Parliament more than Mr Modi.

Let me share with you six instances when Prime Ministers have spoken on the floor of Rajya Sabha on crucial issues.

Jawaharlal Nehru on the situation in Assam, discussed under Rule 167 (9 September, 1960) - "I heard innumerable instances when I was there, of people coming and telling me and complaining of the Army taking action, interfering with them; all kinds of people, whether they were ordinary peasants or others -saying that the Army had come here, there and taking possession of these areas, that they were a little afraid of going there to till their fields and so on. The Army was functioning there on different dates and in different places."

Lal Bahadur Shastri on the situation in Kutch, discussed during statement given by the Minister of External Affairs (5 May, 1965) - "There is no question of surrendering any part of our territory and as I said the other day, not even an inch of it. I had made it clear in my statement that if it is possible to settle this matter peacefully and if there is going to be a cease-fire simultaneously with the acceptance of the principle of the restoration of status quo ante, the government will have no objection to pursuing that method."

Rajiv Gandhi on BOFORS guns purchase, discussed during Matters Raised with Permission of the Chair (28 April, 1987) - "I would like to reiterate once again to the House that so far we have got no specific information from the Swedish Government. I have said so on the floor of this House that the minute we have any information, we will take the hardest possible action and you will see that action. It will not be hidden, it will not be concealed. It will be there for you to see, it will be there for the country to see."

Chandra Shekhar on situation arising out of Gulf War, discussed during Resolution moved by Chair (25 February, 1991) - "My colleagues in this House and in the other House suggested that today we should pass some resolution expressing our concern about the developing situation in the Gulf area. I read the statement. "As the hon. Members are aware, all the efforts made by the Security Council on 23 February to stop the war and to restore peace in the Gulf region proved to be of no avail. The ground war has been started and has been going on for the last two days. Its consequences are going to be really devastating."

PV Narasimha Rao on the situation in Charar-e-Sharief (J&K), discussed under Rule 167 (16 May, 1995) - "This is a great tragedy. We are all under great stress and agony that this should have happened. I would like to say, very briefly, that this is part of the activities being conducted by our neighbour, part of the low-cost proxy war that they have launched against us, it has not been launched today. This is the time for us to understand clearly what is being done by whom and what should be our lookout."

Atal Bihari Vajpayee on persistence of violence in Gujarat, discussed under Motion moved by an MP citing Article 355 of the Constitution (6 May, 2002) - "Whatever happened in Gujarat was worth criticising and shameful. I was right when I said that this is a stain on the country (maathe pe kalank). The situation cannot be trivialised by saying that this kind of thing keeps happening in Gujarat. It is told that Gujarat has a riot every two years. They have curfews for many days. For many days, the law and order situation remains bad. What happened in Godhra and post-Godhra, I am at a lack of words to criticise it. I had said you cannot put out fire with fire. Murder cannot be answered with murder. This feeling of revenge has to be let go of. This is a democracy, a rule of democracy and is governed by rule of law." (Translated from Hindi).

(Derek O'Brien, MP, leads the Trinamool Congress in the Rajya Sabha)

Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author.