Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Monday said there have been apprehensions in people’s minds about the country being run through “one party dictatorship”, attempts to destabilise opposition party-ruled states and the “selective” use of central agencies.
Participating in the discussion in Lok Sabha on “Parliamentary Journey of 75 years starting from Samvidhan Sabha — Achievements, Experiences, Memories and Learnings”, Chowdhury claimed that currently, there is a lack of inclusivity in various aspects of society, including in Parliament, and sought greater freedom of expression for everyone.
He spoke after Prime Minister Narendra Modi initiated the discussion on the first day of the five-day session of Parliament. Highlighting that many portions of speeches of opposition members had been expunged from Lok Sabha records in the past, the Congress leader in the House said the founders of the nation always vouched for equal opportunities and freedom for all MPs.
“There has been fear in people’s minds about one-party dictatorship being imposed. There is fear about attempts to destabilise opposition (party) ruled states and selective use of central agencies,” he said.
Observing that plurality is the essence of civilisation, Chowdhury said India is a nation of unending pluralism and the opinion of everyone should be respected.
“There is no inclusivity. You can see how many MPs here belong to the minority communities…We should give up our arrogance… Jindagi lambi nahi, badi honi chahiye (life should be big instead of long),” he said, quoting a popular dialogue of a yesteryear Bollywood hit.
Remembering governments of former prime ministers, the Congress leader said all of them, beginning from Jawaharlal Nehru, contributed immensely to the growth of the country.
Referring to the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said during his tenure the landmark Indo-US nuclear deal was signed and he (Singh) talked less but worked more.
Had the Indo-US nuclear deal not been signed, the present India-America bonhomie would not have been seen, he said.
It was Congress leader Sonia Gandhi who took the initiative for the enactment of the Right to Information Act, the Right to Food Act and the Right to Education Act during the UPA’s rule, said Chowdhury, who was sitting next to her. Sonia Gandhi was seen thumping the desk during his speech.
The information technology revolution was brought during the tenure of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was also instrumental in bringing the Panchayati Raj Act, which established democracy at the grassroots, he said.
Chowdhury also talked about the negative impacts of the 2016 decision of the Narendra Modi government to demonetise bank notes, the 2019 move to bifurcate the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into union territories after the abrogation of Article 370, and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.
“Today, we should have observed a few minutes of silence in the memory of those soldiers who were killed by terrorists recently in Jammu and Kashmir… Manipur is still burning,” he said.
The Congress leader said that one day of the session should be dedicated to opposition members to raise issues of their concern.
Participating in the debate, DMK leader T R Baalu said there was nothing special about the current session and it was just like any other session.
Remembering the contributions of all prime ministers, Baalu said it was during the tenure of Prime Minister V P Singh that “social justice” was delivered to the backward classes by giving them reservation.
He said the DMK has been sending its representatives to Parliament since 1963 and has been part of various governments too.
When the country achieves successes such as the landing of Chandrayaan-3 on the Moon, it should not be highlighted as the success of just one party, Baalu said.
Everyone has contributed to the growth and development of the country and credit should go to everyone too, he asserted.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)