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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Indian Parliament turns 60 -- living member of Constituent assembly

Sunday, 13th May 2012 was another memorable day in the annals of Indian history – for it marked the 60th anniversary of the Indian Parliament.  Read this post at :    India has a long and cherished history and commemorating the 60th anniversary of the prestigious Institution of democracy, special sittings were held at Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on that day.    After becoming a Republic, first general elections were held in 1951-52 ; Lok Sabha was constituted on April 17, 1952 and the Lok Sabha held its first session, a month later, on May 13th.

60 years marks a very long time and it is indeed great that there is one sitting MP who was a member of that first Lok Sabha -  Congress leader from Manipur, Rishang Keishing.  Interestingly, he was not a congressman but a Socialist MP at that time.   On a web search read that in 1964, the Socialist Party leader in Parliament, Raj Narain, asked party MPs to disrupt President S Radhakrishnan's address to the joint Parliament sitting for not speaking in Hindi. While the rest of the MPs agreed, Keishing dissented saying Hindi should not be forced on anyone.   Keishing's unhappiness with the Socialists also coincided with the Chinese aggression which made, according to him, a large section in his border state feel their safety would be better protected by a national party.   So he joined Congress under Nehru and later became  four-time Congress CM.    Rishang Keishing  was born in 1920 and is 91 + now;  presently he is a Rajya Sabha having served Manipur as Chief Minister earlier. 

On Parliament turning 60 – a few living members of the first Lok Sabha, including Reishang Keishing and Resham Lal Jangde, were honoured.   Mr Jangde is a former MP from Bilaspur in the first Lok Sabha.  A law graduate and a close associate of  Lal Bahadur Shastri,  he was also a member of the Provisional Parliament that preceded the first Lok Sabha between 1950 and 1952.  Those were the days when there were two members from one constituency and the other member from Bilaspur reportedly was  Amar Sinh Sahgal.  Jangde, a khadi-clad Gandhian in his lifestyle,  was influenced by Ram Manohar Lohia and joined the JP movement. In the post-Emergency era, he joined the Jan Sangh and later BJP.  Now at 88, Reshamlal Jangde can barely walk or talk;  he moves in a wheelchair and mumbles when he has to speak, his keen eyes watchful of everything around him. But his smile is a reflection of his spirit.  His last stint in Parliament was from 1989 to 1991, as member of BJP, a party that he says he still belongs to.

Today’s Dinamalar reports of a seasoned politician from Tamilnadu who should have perhaps been invited on that occasion and honoured.   This gentleman was alongside luminaries  of that era which would include : Pandit Nehru,  Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar,  Dr. Rajendra Prasad,  C. Rajagopalachari,             Sarat Chandra Bose,  Syama Prasad Mookerjee, President, Hindu Mahasabha, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur,  Prof NG Ranga, P Subbaraya, TT Krishnamachari, NG Ayyangar, KM Munshi, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan,  Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer,  Vijayalakshmi Pandit,  Ramnath Goenka,  Sarojini Naidu and many more !!

The man being referred to is -  T. M. Kaliyannan Gounder  from Tiruchengode,  who as a part of that illustrious list was a member of the Constituent Assembly.   The Constituent Assembly of India was elected to write the Constitution of India. Following India's independence from Great Britain, its members served as the nation's first Parliament.  It consisted of  indirectly elected representatives,  set up for the purpose of drafting a constitution for India (including what are now the separate countries of Pakistan and Bangladesh). In the event, it remained in being for almost three years, acting as the first parliament of India after independence in 1947.   The Assembly met for the first time in New Delhi on 9 December 1946. The last session of the Assembly was held in November 1949. Over the course of this period (two years, eleven months and seventeen days), the Assembly held eleven sessions, sitting on a total of 165 days.   The Constituent Assembly had 217 representatives, including 15 women.  The Interim Government of India was formed on 2 September 1946 from the newly-elected Constituent Assembly.

Kaliyanna Gounder  is a living member of that famed  Constituent Assembly and it would have been appropriate to have honoured him on  the special occasion of 60 years of Indian Parliament. 

On that important day, the 92-year-old Rishang Keishing  narrated his first day in Lok Sabha as a Socialist MP in 1952. “As I looked towards the Treachery Benches, Pt.  Nehru was sitting there, next to him were Abul Kalam Azad, Babu Jagjivan Ram and Rajkumari Amrit Kaur and a host of others. And, on the Opposition side, - I was on the Opposition side - there were AK Gopalan, Shri Hiren Mukherjee, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and many other leaders,” he narrated.  Keishing, all praise for the manner in which the proceedings were ‘peacefully’ conducted during the first ten years of his parliamentary career, was disturbed at the way in which the precious time of the House is wasted in matters not related to the country’s welfare.  “Speeches in Parliament used to be peaceful and  constructive.  -  . .intervention used to be very cordial....that was the best time of Parliamentary democracy,” he said.

There are always lots of things to be learnt from the past and from the words of elders……………

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
15th May 2012.

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