New Delhi: In a rare gesture, Rajya Sabha on Thursday bade farewell to three of its retired members including CPI-M’s P Rajeev in absentia, with leaders cutting across party lines wanting his party or the government to get him back to the House.
The six-year term of Mr. Rajeev, M.P. Achuthan (CPI) and Vayalar Ravi (Congress) came to an end on April 21 but as the Rajya Sabha was prorogued and did not meet on its earlier scheduled date of April 20, they exited the Upper House without a formal farewell, which has been a tradition. Today was the first day of the new session of Rajya Sabha.
Naresh Agarwal (SP) raised the issue of retiring members not getting a farewell from the House, prompting Chairman Hamid Ansari to allow leaders to make farewell speeches.
Mr. Ansari said while Mr. Ravi has been re-elected, “the House will, however, miss P. Rajeev and M.P. Achuthan, who had contributed significantly to the deliberations of his House through their active participation on many occasions. They have definitely enhanced the dignity and prestige of this august House.”
Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said while all the three retiring members were dedicated and had near attendance, Mr. Rajeev was “industrious in digging out procedure and rules of debates in the House and kept the ruling benches on their toes.”
“He studied the rules so well and researched well,” he said and asked Sitaram Yechury, the new CPI-M General Secretary, to consider getting Rajeev elected again to the Upper House.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said Mr. Rajeev was an “encyclopedia of rules” and, in a jocular vein, said he wanted his iPad so that he could benefit from all his research on rules and procedures. He too wanted Mr. Yechury to get Mr. Rajeev back in the House.
Seconding Mr. Azad on getting Mr. Rajeev back, Mayawati (BSP) said the CPI-M leader used to put forth his views with all preparation.
An atmosphere of bonhomie prevailed in the House on the first day of the new session even amid a tussle between the government and the Opposition on the land issue.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu also hailed Mr. Rajeev as a “very articulate” politician saying one should feel jealous. He added in a lighter vein that such an articulate and intelligent person is in the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and opposing the NDA government.
Mr. Yechury responded by saying that since Mr. Rajeev is very intelligent and articulate, he is in the CPI-M.
Mr. Naidu also congratulated Mr. Yechury on becoming the party’s General Secretary saying he was happy that such an articulate and knowledgeable person was now holding the top position in CPI-M. He said that others in the House should emulate such hardworking members.
Maintaining that he has been against Communism as an ideology since student days, the Union Minister said he therefore used to admire leaders like A K Antony, Vayalar Ravi, Saugata Roy and P.R. Dasmunshi who used to fight the communists in Kerala and West Bengal.
While Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) said Mr. Rajeev was well versed with rules and procedures and enriched the House proceedings, D Raja (CPI) said his performance inside and outside the House was commendable.
Navneet Krishnan (AIADMK) said Mr. Rajeev was a rare combination of someone who studied economics, law and chemical engineering.
Derek O’Brien (TMC) said he was standing by choice and not by compulsion to bid farewell to someone from a party who “we may dispel and hate each other’s philosophy.”
Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said it was not good for the country that the number of communists, who are a disciplined party, is declining and efforts should be made to bring Mr. Rajeev back to House. Tiruchi Siva (DMK) said Mr. Rajeeve made his mark by interpreting rules, while Naresh Gujral (SAD) urged the government to get Rajeev nominated to the House as he had left an indelible mark. Dilip Tirkey (BJD), Javed Akhtar (Nominated) and Majeed Memon also spoke.
Responding to the plea made by members from all sides, CPI-M leader Yechury said his party followed certain rules and procedures and Mr. Rajeev has been given greater responsibilities in Kerala which goes to polls next year.
Communists, he said, are generally referred to as anarchists, slogan shouters and someone against development but Mr. Rajeev contributed to progress of the country and its democracy. His re-nomination “will be considered very seriously,” the CPI-M leader said.