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“This is time for introspection not for nostalgia...”

(Below we carry excerpts from the speech of Comrade Jayanta Rongpi, ASDC-CPI(ML) member in parliament, delivered during the special session to mark the 50th anniversary of independence which discussed the state of the nation and came up with a high-sounding, rhetorical declaration entitled Agenda for India.)

Thank you, Chairman.
Sir, I have been listening to the speeches of leaders of various political parties for the last three days. In this session, there is a departure from normal parliamentary sessions in the sense that the speeches have become more academic, philosophical and sometimes nostalgic too. Most of the speakers were part of the ruling coalitions or ruling party in the last 50 years. So, I expected a few words of introspection instead of nostalgia, a bit of repentance. I think without introspection, without reviewing our past performance, this type of session will carry no meaning.

In this House, I represent an important section of North-East. When a sizable section of people of North-East are now having a deep sense of alienation from Delhi, we have been launching a very successful and very popular movement for democratic restructuring of the state of Assam, which we feel will ultimately strengthen the democratic polity and democratic integration of our beloved motherland. We have been doing this because we subscribe to the ideology of the revolutionary left. Therefore, we represent the voice of extreme dissent in the otherwise set pattern of discussion in this august House.

The first point I want to make is about criminalisation of politics. Hon. President referred to this in his address on the night of 14th August. The Prime Minister went to the extent of saying that in parliament he had to sit with some persons with whom he would avoid sharing company outside. This is a very serious matter. Who are such persons sitting in this House? Can one hope to launch the second freedom struggle with such people?

I want to talk about Shri Chandrashekar, who was a young student leader of JNUSU for two consecutive terms. He was shot dead in Siwan in broad daylight. I do not want to name the person but a Member of Parliament is the culprit. This House has never spoken in unequivocal terms about this. Have you got the courage to take a resolution today?

Yesterday I got a report from the Shikta block of West Champaran district where in a village of Mushahar community — the lowest community in the ladder of social system — houses were raided and a three-year old child was snatched from his mother and thrashed to death. This is happening not only in Bihar but the dalits are being killed in police firing in Mumbai and in Tamil Nadu. They are not being allowed to hold peaceful demonstrations against the atrocities committed. Therefore, we have to take a serious view of the matter.

Regarding corruption, the question arises: who should be proceeded against? Petty clerks or peons or other small fries? As far as people of India are concerned, they are agitated over the corrupt acts of politicians. And the party which ruled India for the most part and whose leaders have taken corruption as pastime, if they fight shy of taking corruption as a major issue it is understandable. But all those political parties who launched a crusade against corruption on their way to power develop cold feet whenever they are asked to take a firm stand. I do not know why it is so.

Even after 50 years of our ‘tryst with destiny’, how is it that communalism becomes such a threat to the Indian polity? There is not much to object if a party which has got nothing to do with the Indian freedom struggle is now trying hard to appropriate the glory of freedom struggle. I do not object to it because if there is pseudo-secularism, there can be pseudo-patriotism as well. But at least I expect, for Ram’s sake, an unqualified apology to the nation for their role in demolishing the Babri Masjid. Otherwise, the Swarna Jayanti Yatra will only remain an exercise for promoting the cause of Hindu rashtra.

Regarding the North-East, Mr. Chairman, I expect two things from this parliament and this government. The first is that there should be a serious introspection. The second thing is to stop the politics of gimmicks in the Northeast. Now it is not only five decades of Indian independence, it also nearly five decades of Indian army’s deployment in the North-East. But what has been the result? Nothing. In the 50s, when the Indian army was deployed in the North-East to counter insurgency, there was only one insurgent group. But four or five decades after deployment of army now there are dozens of such insurgent groups. Yes, if you want to control insurgency in the North-East with the army the way you have become successful in Punjab or the way you are hoping to be successful in Kashmir, you may well do it. But your record of five decades has shown you have failed. So, this policy must be reviewed. There must be a political solution to the problem of insurgency. Political dialogues have been put on a backburner and military and police solutions have been tried which have resulted into a catastrophe. Now there is a volatile situation in the North-East. Therefore, in this regard I want to say a few things.

Let this parliament pass a resolution to implement all the accords. Now, the Prime Minister is saying all the time that we should have a dialogue with NSCN and Bodo extremists. We have already been successful once in making them come to the negotiating table and sign a negotiated accord and a Memorandum of Understanding. They have not been implemented. The Assam Accord is twelve year old and it has not been implemented. There is an accord even with Tripura National Volunteers which has not been implemented and then there is an agreement with Laldenga all the clauses of which are yet to be implemented. The Bodo Accord which was signed by the previous government as well as the MoU signed with ASDC too are yet to be implemented. You are not implementing any accord, you are not fulfilling any commitment. You are saying that you want political discussions and you are inviting Nagas and Bodos for discussions. Let there be a resolution that all the accords would be implemented.

The reorganisation of the North-East is yet to be completed. The tribal groups have to be given self-rule within the boundaries of Assam. I am not for bifurcation of Assam, I am not for the disintegration or dismemberment of Assam. Within Assam, all tribal groups must be given autonomy under the provisions of the Constitution, whether it is under the Sixth Schedule or under Article 244A. An Upper House should be created in Assam so that all the tribal groups can be represented there. There is a proposal which has already been passed by the Legislative Assembly of Assam. Parliament should pass an Act so that the Upper House is created in Assam in which all the tribal groups can be represented.

My next point is regarding the economic package for the North-East. The previous government announced something, this government has also announced something. But these are not implemented. When I asked whether these economic packages were additional packages or an amount calculated or five years as the normal Planning Commission’s grant, the answer was not clear. If it is a normal grant calculated for five years announced anew whenever a Prime Minister assumes office, then it is like a post-dated cheque from a sinking bank. It is like hoodwinking North-East. So, the government must say categorically whether this Rs.6000 crore package is an additional grant or a routine grant, calculated in advance.

Home > Liberation Main Page > Index Page October 1997 > ARTICLE