Transcript of Mr H K Dua’s farewell speech in the Rajya Sabha on Aug 13, 2015

Farewell, Honourable Members

The people are watching us

By H K Dua, MP

H K Dua (Nominated): Thank you, Mr Chairman, for giving me an opportunity this day, particularly in this Monsoon Session, when the House has been caught in a different pursuit.To find time for us, too. Nominated Members, to bid farewell; it required special efforts. Thank you very much for it. I will remember it.

About six years ago, Mr Chairman, you administered to me the oath as a Member of Parliament, as a Presidential nominee. I am glad that it was you who gave me the oath and entrusted me with the heavy responsibility which a Member of Parliament should bear. These six years have been very educative, although I was acquainted with the House earlier as a journalist.

Way back in 1964, I was in the Press Gallery reporting the Rajya Sabha. There, up in the Gallery, I began my career as a parliamentary correspondent, and then events, historic events, went on unfolding both here in the House ouse Has well as outside which I have had the privilege of covering.
Sir, it took me 40 long years to travel a distance of less than 30 feet to reach here – from the Press Gallery into the House. But, these six years have been more educative because I was on the other side of the divide, most of my life. I tend to believe after I became a Member of Parliament, I did not conduct myself like a newsman. I functioned like a Member of Parliament of this great Parliament should.

We, nominated Members, are not supposed to take a partisan view of an issue. And, that is the Constitutional scheme of things meant to expose this House, to independent opinions of people in different walks of life. It is a very few lucky people who have distinguished themselves and speak their mind, who can earn a Presidential nomination.

Mr Chairman, Sir, several illustrious and distinguished citizens of India have adorned these benches where I have been having the privileged to sit during the last six years. We had great jurists like Shri M C Setalvad, Shri C K Daftari, and Shri Fali Nariman; Great scientists like Prof. Satyendra Nath Bose, and Dr M S Swaminathn with whom I had the privilege of working here in the same row. (I attended his 90th birth anniversary only last week in Chennai). There were great poets like Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Harivansh Rai Bachchn, Amrita Pritam and many others who represented the best of India. Sir, film-makers like Shri Shyam Benegal was also here with us in this row. Looks like we have had some kind of criteria to select these kind of people as Presidential nominees for these twelve seats.

There are still many distinguished people sitting behind me here. I don’t want to say much about them, because it is not time for their farewell. I don’t want to bid them farewell. I wish them a long life and long tenure in this House.

Mr Chairman, Sir, even if we the nominated have weak vocal cords or not as much of lung power like many members from various political parties have, we did our best to serve this House.

In these last six years, I have seen many ups and downs in this House to which I was already familiar with as a journalist. There have been some excellent debates during these six years. There were memorable debates on Maoist violence, price rise, etc. The Nuclear Liability Bill was passed by achieving a consensus by Mr Arun Jaitley who is now the Leader of the House, but at that time he was the Leader of the Opposition, and Mr Prithviraj Chauhan from the then Government. It was a quite considerable behind-the-science-effort to arrive at consensus — a course of action which should still be useful for new situations as well. That Track Two consensus helped to get over difficulties which the Nuclear liability Bill was facing in the House.

And, Sir, there were other great moments. The Debate on the Impeachment Motion of a Kolkata High Court judge was one of them. The House was totally unanimous in passing the motion for removal of the Judge which had been recommended by a Committee appointed by none else than you, Mr Chairman.

Sir, the level of the debate was very high. Recently, only in the last session, this house passed the Land Boundary Agreement Bill which was pending for the last 40 years. This House passed it unanimously and that was a glorious moment. Whatever the people might say about the Members of Parliament these days, but there have been great moments which we can be proud of.

However, at the same time, there have been some sad moments. I witnessed tearing of Bills at the middle of the night. Tearing of another Bill on Assam boundary from the other side. That kind of happening I had never seen before when I was a parliamentary correspondent. There were sad moments. But, those did not dent the image of the House irretrievably.

I would venture to say that the Rajya Sabha is still a very relevant House in the Constitutional scheme of things. The running of a big democracy like India which is so diverse, particularly when this is the Council of States, its importance is much more now when we are talking of co-operative federalism.

Mr Chairman, Sir, I with your permission, would like to suggest what can be done to avoid stormy situations like the Monsoon Session has gone through. . There were stormy Sessions and disturbances when the UPA was in power not long ago. When the NDA is in power, also there have been disturbances and disruptions in the House.

H K Dua (contd.): That brings a really bad name to the House and to Parliament as such. Cynicism is developing amongst the people. What needs to be done now is, and what needed to be done then was — Governments have to be more responsive to the Opposition and the Opposition has to be more responsible — irrespective of the prevailing dispensation. Both, together, have to run Parliament of India, and the Rajya Sabha, particularly, which has a responsibility for laying better traditions for the other House as well as for the State Legislative Assemblies.

What is needed is not acrimony, but an orderly reasoned debate,. I am quite often surprised that while there is acrimony in the House, the moment we go to the Central Hall, then over coffee the members talk, they laugh, they joke — if nothing has happened!

Actually, in the House, what is badly missing is tolerance and the listening capacity of the Members from the other side. While the Opposition does not want to listen to the Government, the Government does not want to listen to the Opposition. Tolerance level is definitely low and the dissenting view is not acceptable to anyone, from this side or the other. And there comes the importance of independent voices. And on the Nominated Members’ devolves greater responsibility which I think, most of us have sought to discharge.

But, what is needed most, is a consensus on vital national issues like fighting terrorism, nuclear policy, national security policy, etc. There is no scope for differences between the Government and the Opposition on these questions. What is also needed – and badly – is a consensus on the running of Parliament. I hope, the leaders – the Leader of the House, Mr Arun Jaitley, the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad with the advice of seniors like Dr Karan Singh, Shri Sitaram Yechury, Shri Sharad Pawar, Shri Sharad Yadav, all can sit together and work out a consensus on how to run this House better because 125 crore people are watching the performance of Parliament, and certainly of this House. Even the world is watching us.

I will end by thanking you once again, Mr Chairman. I thank every Member. And I have a palpable feeling of gratitude; I am moved by the love and affection which I got from every political party in the House and in Central Halll, in the lobbies. There is no doubt about it. With that warmth as my asset, I will be leaving the House – although sadly. My thanks to your Secretariat also, to the Secretary-General and the staff who have been very cooperative in meeting our demands, which we thought were very urgent.

I cannot fail to thank Prof P J Kurien, for his indulgence. As Dr Ganguly has pointed out, he rang the bell too soon and two often. Once he rang the bell too soon and said: “Mr Dua, Two minutes, please!”

“Sir, Is it a Maggie formula which I have to adopt for my speech?” I asked him. At that time, Maggi had not been banned. Prof Kurien did not mind my remark and just laughed. Maybe, he was doing his duty and we wanted to do ours. Thank you, Prof Kurien,

Thank you every body here. Thank you, Mr Chairman, Sir.

Mr Chairman: Thank you, Mr Dua.

Good foreign policy begins near home

By H K Dua

Mr Deputy Chairman: Now, Shri H K Dua. Duaji, please take only two minutes.

Derek O’Brien: Sir, I have just one point. In the spirit of what we are debating and discussing, every party here has got up and given its whole-hearted support to this Bill. In that spirit, I am suggesting that this is a Constitutional Amendment Bill. It needs majority of two-thirds of Members present and voting.

H K Dua (Nominated): Sir, I will try to finish within two minutes. I support the Bill moved by the Minister of External Affairs on the Land Border Agreement, which was overdue. We had signed the agreement but we were looking as a nation, which lets down itself by not ratifying it much earlier than we are doing it now. This Bill will facilitate early ratification of the Agreement signed years and years ago.

Sir, a good foreign policy always begins near home. By satisfying the needs of a neighbouring country, it serves as an input in the conduct of a good foreign policy. I am glad, this Bill is doing exactly this.

Also, I hope, the passing of this Bill facilitates the signing of an Agreement on Teesta waters also, which is pending for long. For this, you do not need more negotiations with Bangladesh, but you do need negotiations with Derek O”Brien’s party. I think some way out will be found, and, both will cooperate with each other.

Sir, the ratification of LBA will be in wider national interest. We should have good relations with Bangladesh and strengthen the hands of a friendly Prime Minister there, who is facing many serious challenges. This agreement, and, a possible agreement on Teesta waters, which we have promised — but not delivered — will further strengthen the hands of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who has been cooperating with India, including by returning the militants who were earlier being harboured in the Bangladesh territory.

The return of their territory, and more cooperation between India and Bangladesh in trade, economy and transit routes, will further lead to better relations between India and Bangladesh. Like the rest of the House, I fully support this Bill.

Thank you, Mr Deputy Chairman.

(Transcription of H K Dua’s intervention in the debate on Constitution Amendment Bill on the Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh on May 6, 2015.)