MR. SPEAKER: Motion Moved:
"That this House expresses its confidence in the Council of Ministers."
SHRI JASWANT SINGH (CHITTORGARH): Mr. Speaker, Sir, at the very outset, I must comment upon the near total air of unreality in which this debate is taking place. Just before the commencement of the debate, the air was suddenly thick with rumours about the resignation of the hon. Prime Minister, about a last minute change, and about the partners in this arrangement having now settled their dispute. I was very relieved when the hon. Prime Minister finally arrived, even though somewhat belatedly, to at least, for the moment, set that rumour to rest.
The hon. Prime Minister rather coyly referred to certain new developments that have taken place, which require this debate to take place. I do wish, Sir, that the hon. Prime Minister, who with admirable restraint and ambiguity called them `certain new developments', had specified what these new developments were. The debate has not been occasioned because we have moved a Motion of No-Confidence. The hon. Prime Minister himself sought confidence of the House because, as he explained, there are certain new developments. What are those new developments?
If you recollect, Sir, I had appealed to my friends in the supporting party, the Congress, who, according to the Prime Minister, gave them support so spontaneously, who also said in the House that they would not withdraw their support, and indeed, Sir, who also said that they would stand by them till the end ... (Interruptions)
SHRI MRUTYUNJAYA NAYAK (PHULBANI): Till then, they were standing up for them.
SHRI JASWANT SINGH (CHITTORGARH): I have appealed to them that the debate would be rounded off and that it would be better informed had the Congress explained what these new developments are. Indeed, we would know, the House would know and the country would know and we have a right to know them. But the Congress declined. Why they declined, still I am unable to fathom.
SHRI A.C. JOS (IDUKKI): You resign and join the Congress!
SHRI JASWANT SINGH (CHITTORGARH): The hon. Prime Minister quite rightly pointed out that when he took over office, there was a lurking suspicion about the effectiveness and the survivability of this Government.
SHRI SOMNATH CHATTERJEE (BOLPUR): Survivability?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH (CHITTORGARH): Yes. That is the word the hon. Prime Minister used. He used the word survivability. I am not responsible for the choice of words. I am trying to be analytical.
SHRI A.C. JOS (IDUKKI): It would enlighten the House itself!
SHRI SOMNATH CHATTERJEE (BOLPUR): A very good follower.
SHRI JASWANT SINGH (CHITTORGARH): As far as the effectiveness is concerned, the hon. Prime Minister catalogued the achievements of his Government for the last ten months and, even though I might not be in agreement with all the claims that the Prime Minister has made, I do sincerely sympathise with the air of bewildered perplexity with which he read out his achievements and I wonder as to what is the occasion for this certain new developments causing this illustrious and once upon a time great political party suddenly to decide to withdraw support.
That is why, I certainly have to comment that quite an exceptional distinction devolves upon the 11th Lok Sabha in now debating the third confidence vote in just over nine months. I think it has to reflect on this fact and what lies at the core of it all. I submit that this 11th Lok Sabha taking up the confidence vote for the third time reflects in essence the thwarting of the people's mandate when the elections were first held and it is a consequence of this artificial legislative arrangement that was created in May or June of last year. It is entirely up to the Government to agree on this and indeed I do not expect them to agree with me. A huge untruth was then inflicted upon India. I said this earlier also and that untruth is now coming unstuck. The untruth is coming unstuck in this inglorious and ignominious manner, a manner that brings disrepute upon India and which brings disrepute upon this august Assembly which we have the honour of serving. It brings into disrepute without any doubt the entire political class that appears only to be hankering after office and chair. My first charge against this motion is on both counts and it is a collective charge upon both the defender and the offender.
SHRI SAT MAHAJAN (KANGRA): You might say that as a pretender!
SHRI JASWANT SINGH (CHITTORGARH): We are not pretenders. We do not pretend because if anything is to be said explicitly, it is only that we have said it. If at all there is a pretender, the true pretenders in this artificial arrangement is the Congress Party and my distinguished friends, the CPM.
They were the pretenders because they pretended. There is something about the oldest profession in the world. They pretended to wield power. They pretended responsibly. They wielded power but without responsibility. They wanted to run this Government but without any accountability. They were the pretenders. Therefore, I charge both the defenders and the offenders of bringing about a wholly artificial, spurious and avoidable crisis, a crisis born entirely of mendacity, double cross, double speak, double standards and it is a dishonest crisis.
I do not wish to say about the kind of rumours that became thick, about all this drama and the charade about talks, talks about talks, informal talks, then, formal talks of Steering Committee and of Core Group and of yet another Core Group or whatever controlling Group. We were told when these talks, double-crosses were going on that those who were entrusted with actually doing the talking were more interested in ensuring that the talks failed so that their leaders who were at the helm, could, in turn, be defeated and the second rank could come forward and take over. The charade, the mendacity of what we have been subjected to today was entirely avoidable. It is a crisis born of treachery within parties and it is also the treachery of arrangements between parties. That is why when this debate takes place, the air is found with a suspense of individual conduct. I will not go into that now. But I earnestly searched in the hon. the Prime Minister's initial intervention as to what is the great issue of principle. What was that issue, what substantial matter that has created this new circumstance for the offender to take such an offence? I fail to find anything in the hon. the Prime Minister's intervention. All that we have read and heard is that personal prick, blind, unseen self-interest seem to have motivated the bringing about the crisis. It appears in all this that personal interest seems to have taken the first place always and every time. Every kind of consideration of national interest has been relegated to the background.
My second charge is that this is a farce upon Legislature. It is not a farce upon Legislature simply because of the frequencies with which we are doing this. It is a face because of the atmosphere in which it is being conducted. Till the last minute, we have been told that something is being arranged. They said: "We are changing the personality." We read statements in the newspapers about this. They said: "We have objection only to a certain personality. If the personality changes, then, we will work together again." Is the Legislature to be reduced to an area for settling personal disputes between individuals? As a Legislature, are we to become the victim of a certain party's prick against a single individual, however high office that he held?...(Interruptions)
After all, we opposed the hon. the Prime Minister. Our opposition to him is open, is clear, is categorical and is unambiguous. Mr. Prime Minister, Sir, we are your opponents. Your enemies sit behind you and beside you. We are your political opponents. We make no bones about it.
It is a farce because it is a sad imposition upon a trusting and unsuspecting nation. I remember with vividness the fluency and the ability with which my good friend the hon. Finance Minister debated the issue when the Confidence Motion was considered, perhaps in June. He said: "There are three reasons why we are here. It is because of the verdict of the people -- it is a false assertion now -- that we stand for social justice and we are the forces of secularism." What has happened to this verdict of the people? Where is the social justice and where is the secularism? I submit again as I submitted then that all these three were flimsy excuses, a cloak only for keeping the BJP out at any cost. This is an untenable assertion which now visits upon this arrangement at this governance.
My third charge is that you propounded a wholly artificial, untenable and indeed an irresponsible thesis about the support from outside. What we are witnessing today and what we are experiencing today is entirely on account of this arrangement. You do not want to be in Government, yet you want to govern; you do not want the responsibility, the accountability of Government yet you wish to tell the Prime Minister about it. When you want him to stand up, you want him to stand up and when you want him to sit down, you want him to sit down. No self-respecting arrangement can work like this. We have struggled together for years with some of the constituents of the United Front. I have had the pleasure and privilege of sitting here with some of the constituents of the United Front, indeed with the Leader of the House Shri Ram Vilasji. I see all these faces and many of them had been our partners in the many struggles that we fought together. Our political differences, our political opposition to the Congress have been categorical, unequivocal and totally unquestionable. You chose to join this company; you chose to work with them and you chose to agree to this wholly, unacceptable arrangement of support from outside. We had even then said that this was untenable and this would not work. This is indeed now being proven as right and the circumstances have brought shame upon India.
As far as the Congress Party is concerned, I am not at all astonished at their conduct because I remember distinctly that we had been witness earlier to the Congress Party suddenly taking umbrage at two wandering Haryana policemen outside a certain house. And because, those two Haryana policemen were casually wandering outside a house, a Prime Minister was to step down...(Interruptions)
SHRI CHANDRA SHEKHAR (BALLIA): I did not wait for the withdrawal of their support. I knew their inclination and I withdrew. We cannot expect a gentlemanly behaviour from them...(Interruptions)
SHRI JASWANT SINGH (CHITTORGARH): From two Haryana policemen, we are now witness to this transformation of a bolt from the blue suddenly turning into a butted-hole of allegiance.
I am astonished that the distinguished leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party, the hon. Member from Baramati speaking from Pune finds the announcement of his Party President about the withdrawal of support, as a bolt from the blue.
SHRI CHANDRA SHEKHAR (BALLIA): Here, the spirit of Shivaji was guided...
SHRI JASWANT SINGH (CHITTORGARH): I enquire of the hon. Prime Minister, whether this is the new development about which he was referring to. If this is a certain new development, then I do sincerely wish, you had also gone and replied how this bolt from the blue became a baton for beating them into allegiance and whipping them into coming into alliance. What had suddenly changed between Pune and Delhi -- a flight of only a couple of hours? (Interruptions)... I appeal to the hon. the Prime Minister, the Mover of the Motion to also explain to us the conduct of the Party, a very great political party, the Communist Party (Marxist). They had simplified this question of wanting to wield power without having any responsibility.
I find, Sir, that they were the ones who were most active remaining out of the Government, not wanting the responsibility of it but all the time, they must be ordering everyone including you. I am astonished, how you have suddenly become Mamataji?
KUMARI MAMATA BANERJEE (CALCUTTA SOUTH): Sir, may I know what he wants to say?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH (CHITTORGARH): Sir, I said what I wanted to say. More than that I do not wish to say.
I am also struck. I am actually struck by a sense of poignancy. I am struck by the remarkable prescient of my distinguished friend. He is indeed the seniormost Member of this Assembly whom I have the honour of calling my friend, the hon. Home Minister. He, in a different different context spoke of chaos, anarchy and destruction.
PROF. P.J. KURIEN (MAVELIKARA): Are you forgetting that your party was the supporting party to Shri V.P. Singh when he was the Prime Minister? What do you say about that?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH (CHITTORGARH): The hon. Prof. Kurien, who is a very great friend of mine asked me to talk about our support to Shri Vishwanath Pratap Singh. Yes, of course, we supported them.
PROF. P.J. KURIEN (MAVELIKARA): Without responsibility you wanted to wield power at that time.
SHRI PRADIP BHATTACHARYA (SERUMPORE): Why are your narrating the story when you had supported them?...(Interruptions)
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
SHRI JASWANT SINGH (CHITTORGARH): The hon. the Home Minister is a distinuished parliamentarian. I remember a phrase which was used for him in a function that I attended, by a very great Indian Shri Haksar. If I recollect right, he said: "The hon. the Home Minister, Shri Indrajit Gupta is a man of untradable integrity." Without doubt, he is. And, if he used the words that describes the State for chaos, anarchy and destruction then, I am struck by the relevance of these words because that is precisely what the offender has now brought about for totally inexplicable reasons. They have indeed created the situation of brining about chaos, anarchy and destruction and, I wonder whether the prescience of the hon. Home Minister persuaded him to say what he did.
The conduct of the Congress Party really baffles description. The hon. Prime Minister quite rightly pointed out that up to the President's Address, up to the question of the budgetary debates, up to and inclusive indeed of that very shabby situation that had developed in Uttar Pradesh - on all these and on every fundamental issue - up to the 21st of March, the Congress Party had no difficulty.
The Congress Party indeed struggled and quarrelled with us on every occasion but we found fault with them openly and clearly. Suddenly, on the 30th of March, this `bolt from the blue' arrives. I do find it necessary to mention that because the hon. Prime Minister has not explained those `certain circumstances'. I tried to make out what those `certain circumstances' were from the rather curious phrases of the somewhat repetitious letter.
Here, we are told that the Congress Party which was entirely satisfied with everything on the 21st of March, on the 30th was suddenly concerned over `deteriorating law and order situation, drift in the economy - they have supported the Budget though we have differences - leading to rising prices'. They condone rising prices up to the 21st and suddenly on the 30th rising prices becomes sufficient for them to pull the leg. I would be very grateful if the very distinguished and the very able Minister of Finance would specify whether in that nine-day period he saw such a spurt in prices that the Congress Party had no other option but to withdraw support for them.
There was a `growing communal menace'. They have simultaneously told that the land is at peace and all is well. And suddenly, the Congress Party discovers that there is a `growing communal menace and a lack of cohesive functioning of the Government'. To the best of my recollection, between the 21st and the 30th, the most that happened was that everyone went away on a holiday for Holi and there was hardly anyone in Delhi. How is it that, in that long period of Holi holidays, suddenly the Congress Party discovers that there is no `cohesive functioning'?
Here is a more serious allegation that has been made. The more serious allegation concerns that `The sensitive defence issues and security requirements of the country have not been properly addressed; there is an overall demoralising effect in the civil services and the various organs of the Government; lack of coordination,' - this is a repetition - `direction and will to govern had created a situation of drift ...' This is a very serious allegation.
The hon. Minister of Defence is here. I do not remember the Congress Party ever questioning him about the security issues. If there has been any questioning, it was indeed by my Leader, who stood up and said that some decisions were taken for the first time about the Defence issues. This is a very serious charge. The Congress Party owes an explanation not simply to the defenders; they owe their explanation to us, they owe an explanation to Parliament, they owe an explanation to the entire country. Such charges cannot be lightly made. If we say what concerns about the state of the nation, about the state of the Defence preparedness of the country, such matters cannot be spoken lightly. Such matters should certainly not become issues of partisan consideration simply because you are displeased with one person or another. I charge the Congress Party of treating even the security of the country as a tradeable issue, as an issue that could be traded as a charge between Parties.
I am amazed at their irresponsibility. I do not wish to comment on the utter debasement of debate and public discourse that was displayed by hon. the Congress President when he referred to the hon. Prime Minister in certain terms. It shamed all of us. It shamed all of us collectively. You can hold whatever views you can hold about Shri Deve Gowda, but you cannot refer to the Prime Minister of the country like that. We have difficulties with the Prime Minister, the premiership of the country. We have open political differences. But never in my party, Sir, has anyone debased our differences of public discourse to that kind of level. In a public speech the President of once-upon-a-time great party traded charges in a language and in a manner which is utterly shameful. I am also, Sir, most intrigued by the timing of this letter. What has persuaded this timing? Somebody owes an explanation. Either you, Mr. Prime Minister, must explain as to why it was on 30th March or someone from the Congress must explain it to the nation.
Sir, I must now list the catalogue of failures, as I see, of the United Front. The hon. Prime Minister, while I was listening to what he has said about the revival of institutions, spoke of Inter-State Council, National Development Council, the Ninth Five Year Plan, the Budget, the Lokpal Bill etc., etc. I submit and I charge the United Front Government of deliberately, knowingly and repeatedly misusing Article 356 despite what had happened in the National Development Council and despite the opinion of the Chief Ministers. I do not wish to run over the entire sorry debate of Uttar Pradesh and what had happened in Uttar Pradesh and what did not happen, but the misuse of office of Governors as evidenced by incidents and developments in the State of Gujarat and the State of Uttar Pradesh is the direct responsibility of the United Front Government and they are to be held accountable and because the Congress acquiesced in this misuse of the office the Congress is also to be held accountable.