SHRI H.D. DEVE GOWDA: There is no need to get my permission. But when you came and said that, at least you had maintained certain dignity and certain political ethics. You were in the United Front at that time and you came and informed me. What did I say? I said: "Please go and join and strengthen the Congress Party; I have no objection." Did I not say that?
SHRI MADHAVRAO SCINDIA: I agree. You are absolutely right. When I informed you, you said: "yes, certainly."
SHRI H.D. DEVE GOWDA: Thank you very much.
When Shri N.D. Tiwari and Shri Arjun Singh came to me saying that they were going back to the Congress Party since Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao was removed from the Presidentship of the Congress Party, I said: "Go; you are most welcome to do that and I have no objection." Had I ever tried to split the Congress Party? Let anybody say this.
Sir, another allegation made is that Deve Gowda wants to marginalise the Congress Party. When Shri Sharad Pawar had asked me to attend some of the programmes in his constituency, did I ever say `no'? Even to the constituency of Shri Sontosh Mohan Dev, to the former Speaker's constituency, wherever I have been called, I have gone. I have not even gone to my Party workers' meetings because I did not want to create friction between the Congress Party and my Party workers. I never attended any party meetings when I had gone to the Congress ruled States to attend the official programmes fixed by the local MPs. How have I marginalised the Congress Party? I do not know what sin I had committed.
Sir, in the morning the hon. Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Shri Jaswant Singh, in a very dignified manner, tried to mention the language which was used by the Congress (I) President against the Prime Minister. When the Press people asked me about it, I said: "Just ignore it." Today, I would like to tell the nation, through this House, what the language used by the hon. President of the Congress (I) who is aspiring to become the Leader was. I have no objection. If the House wants, if all my friends, including that of the Congress Party want, I have no objection.
Sir, I am unable to understand the meaning of the Hindi word, `nikamma'.
"You are foolish, coward and powerless. Just come into open and let us see who is powerful."
He has quoted in Hindi:
This man is not only incompetent but he is also communal.
An incompetent Prime Minister, what he has done in the last ten months, I must apprise this House and through this House to the nation. I would just like to draw the attention of the hon. President of the Congress to an editorial which appeared in `The Hindu' newspaper. You all have seen that. It says:
"Mr. Deve Gowda administration saw - as never before in the last few decades - the return of considerable autonomy to the Ministries. The role of the Prime Minister's Office has been substantially reduced. In various areas of decision making such as foreign investment which rightly has been returned to the Ministry of Industry."
I delegated the powers of the PMO because I am incompetent, inefficient and a foolish Prime Minister...(Interruptions). He is not a Congress worker. He is an All India Congress(I) President. He occupies the chair where great people like Shri Motilal Nehru, Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru and Shrimati Indira Gandhi sat...(Interruptions).
Sir, the Washington Post says:
"India has just made a demonstration of the new sort of leadership that the South Asian subcontinent badly needs. But now by an initiative of Prime Minister, Mr. H.D. Deve Gowda, India, the issue is being treated and removed about the Bangladesh and India on sharing of river Ganga water. If the Ganges Agreement is an example of the leadership Mr. Deve Gowda can provide, let us see more of it."
This is what the Washington Post said. I am not going to read the full editorial column.
Sir, a foolish and an incompetent Prime Minister, at least, tried to do something for the nation. I have not kept quiet for ten months. I would like to recall what I have said on the day when I replied to the Confidence Motion in this very same House. I know what is going to happen. Whether I remain for five days or five months or five years, it is not my concern. Every minute I am going to use to serve the nation. That is the pledge I have taken. Yes I did work for 18 to 19 hours a day. I am proud of it. There is no regret in vacating this office. There is no regret. I have not wasted a single minute. Whenever I used to get an opportunity, I did my best.
There is no need of any certificate from the present President of the Congress (I). I do not need any certificate. I have fought ten elections in my life. Has he fought any direct elections in his life? Why I have chosen to come to Rajya Sabha, I would like to make it clear. I anticipated when the Congress would ditch me because Shri Chandra Shekhar was the victim and Shri V.P. Singh was the victim. I know about all these things and what has happened in the past. Shri Narasimha Rao was the victim. I am going to tell everything -- how Shri Morarji Desai had been handled by the Congress, and how Shri Raj Narain, who was holding the Health portfolio and who fought against Madam Gandhi, was used to split the Janata Party. You know about it, I know about it and everybody knows about it. I know the game plan.
As long as Shri Narasimha Rao was the President, there was no problem. On the day when Shri Sitaram Kesari became the President of the Congress Party, I called him for lunch. I have not neglected your President. We had two hours discussions in my House. He promised me and he also advised me as an elderly statesman. But on the fourth day, when one of my Chief Ministers, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, whose colleague, Prof. Saifuddin Soz, is representing in my Cabinet, went to see Shri Sitaram Kesari and he was told not to join the United Front Government because he was going to withdraw the support. This happened within four days.
I have taken the oath in the name of God, when I came to this House. Narasimha Rao ji, you may swallow so many wounds because you are a cultured person. I would now clarify, at least, some of the doubts raised by some hon. Members of the supporting party. The charge levelled against me was that I had neglected Shri Sitaram Kesari after he became the President. It is not based on truth, but based on something else. There is a headline which correctly says, `India's old man in a hurry: Now or Never.' This was not written by any of the Indian papers. It had appeared in the London Times.
It has been stated that we are hungry of status. But it is a question of respect. We are not hungry of power. The post of the President of the Congress (I) is a high office. The Congress (I) is one of the historic political parties having a background of 105 years...(Interruptions) All right, it has a background of 111 or 113 years...(Interruptions). This is a place where Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru used to sit and I am sitting here today. I will call it the Congress, not the Congress (I). The Congress Party is a Party which has served the nation in achieving freedom. It has served the nation in running the country, to see that the country's development takes place. From all angles, it has done its service. But becoming the President is not a status. It is a question of respect. The Office of the President of the Indian National Congress has no respect, has no status. Only if he comes and sits here, then only the respect and status will come. That is why it is said that that old man is in a hurry...(Interruptions)
PROF. P.J. KURIEN (MAVELIKARA): Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am on a point of order. I seek your ruling...(Interruptions)
MR. SPEAKER : Have the patience to hear, please.
PROF. P.J. KURIEN (MAVELIKARA): I want a clarification from you...(Interruptions)
MR. SPEAKER : Why are you trying to handle it? Keep quiet, please. I will handle it. You do not have to handle it.
Prof. P.J. Kurien, what is your point of order? Under what rule, are you raising it?
PROF. P.J. KURIEN (MAVELIKARA): Yes, Sir. The hon. Prime Minster has said it.
MR. SPEAKER : No. "Yes, Sir", is no reason. "Yes, Sir" is not a rule.
PROF. P.J. KURIEN (MAVELIKARA): The hon. Prime Minister has said it...(Interruptions)
MR. SPEAKER : I overrule it because when you say "He has said it", it is not a rule.
PROF. P.J. KURIEN (MAVELIKARA): Listen to me, please.
MR. SPEAKER : I have given the ruling. You have said: "He has said it". It is not a rule.
PROF. P.J. KURIEN (MAVELIKARA): Allow me, please. I am requesting you to listen to me. I will take only one minute...(Interruptions)
MR. SPEAKER : Have the patience to hear it, please. It is for the Prime Minister to yield.
PROF. P.J. KURIEN (MAVELIKARA): The hon. Prime Minister has taken the name of the President of the Congress Party. I only want your clarification and ruling on it...(Interruptions)
MR. SPEAKER : Unless a Member yields, I cannot help you. The Prime Minister is not yielding. I cannot help you. I cannot allow you unless he yields.
PROF. P.J. KURIEN (MAVELIKARA): He has taken the name of the President of the Congress Party who is not a Member of this House. What is your ruling? I am only asking about your ruling. Can the Prime Minister take the name of the President of the Congress Party who is not a Member of this House? Do you not think that it is an important point?...(Interruptions)
MR. SPEAKER : No.
PROF. P.J. KURIEN (MAVELIKARA): Umpteen rulings have been given by the previous Speakers in this House. The name of a person who is not a Member of this House should not be taken. What is your ruling?
MR. SPEAKER : You cannot do like this.
PROF. P.J. KURIEN (MAVELIKARA): The hon. Speaker should give a ruling on this.
MR. SPEAKER: Ruling on what? I asked you: "Under what rule are you raising your point of order?" You said: "Yes, Sir." I said, "`Yes, Sir' is not a rule." I have overruled it.
PROF. P.J. KURIEN (MAVELIKARA): Can I tell you something?...(Interruptions)
MR. SPEAKER: Please do not behave like this.
PROF. P.J. KURIEN (MAVELIKARA): I say that that word should not be used which is being used repeatedly by the Prime Minister when a senior Member cannot come and defend himself...(Interruptions)
MR. SPEAKER: I have overruled it. There is no point of order.
SHRI CHANDRA SHEKHAR (BALLIA): Mr. Speaker, Sir, a person who has written a letter leading to the destabilisation of this country, has committed a political crime...(Interruptions) I am expressing my opinion...(Interruptions)
PROF. P.J. KURIEN (MAVELIKARA): The hon. Prime Minister has used the word, `old man'. Is it a parliamentary word? I am only having an objection to that word...(Interruptions)
SHRI CHANDRA SHEKHAR (BALLIA): If that is the only objection, then it is all right...(Interruptions)
MR. SPEAKER: Please take your seat Chandra Shekharji.
Please take your seat, Prof. Kurien. You cannot stand up like this. If you do not obey the Speaker, may I request you to obey your leader?
PROF. P.J. KURIEN (MAVELIKARA): I always obey you.
MR. SPEAKER: Please obey your leader. That is very important.
PROF. P.J. KURIEN (MAVELIKARA): Why do you not see that the Prime Minister is calling a senior person an `old man'?...(Interruptions)
MR. SPEAKER: Why are you interrupting on this issue?
Cameras cab be switched on now.
SHRI H.D. DEVE GOWDA: I only say one thing. The letter that has been received from the President of India contains so many allegations against me and against the United Front Government. I should answer them. It is not a question of attacking an individual. It is my responsibility to clarify the position about the allegations made against my Government. The letter is with me and I am answering on those points. Nothing beyond that. If I wanted to show disrespect, there is no need for me to go over it twelve times. I have got the highest regard for you, Kurienji. But what is this Nikamma or Akamma?
The hon. Minister of Home Affairs wanted some clarification from the supporting Party; he wanted that hon. Members from that Party should clarify. He was telling that for one and a half hours he discussed with their Leader but the only argument advanced by the Congress President to him was, `Your leader must quit'. Unless I vacate this place, how can he come and sit? I think, the hon. Minister of Home Affairs can understand that much. So, where was the need for any explanation by the supporting Party?
They have not done anything. I would like to tell very frankly that no member from the Congress Party has criticised in the last ten months - I am grateful to them - whether in this House or outside. The only ambition is that somebody else should occupy this chair and I should vacate it. That is all the secrecy behind that. When he tried to persuade the hon. Minister of Home Affairs saying, `Your Leader should vacate the Office of the Prime Minister', there was nothing wrong. I do not find any fault with the hon. President of the Indian National Congress when he tried to persuade the hon. Minister of Home Affairs. At least, he has not brought this matter to my notice; he has brought it to the notice of the House.
The hon. Minister of External affairs has made a brief speech about our foreign affairs, the policy of the Ministry of External Affairs and what we have done. He has narrated some of the achievements made by our Government. When I was in Russia, I got the message from one of my colleagues, Shri Srikant Jena, the hon. Minister of Parliamentary Affairs that there was all the likelihood that the Congress might withdraw the support. I told him, `I am coming back. If they withdraw the support, why do you worry? There is nothing to bother. After all, as long as I am in this Office, I must do my duty for the sake of my country, whether I lose my Office or I am going to continue.'
I believe in destiny. The late Sanjiva Reddy was thrown out in 1969. He came back in 1978 and he himself administered the Oath of Office to Madam Indira Gandhi in 1980. Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee told us about the clock.
I am not going to run away from Indian politics. I might not have passed in this House. I have been branded as an inefficient Prime Minister by the Congress President, but the final judgement is before the nation and 950 million people are watching us today. An ineffective Prime Minister would
accept this challenge. I would go before the people and I am not going to run away.
There are three groups. The BJP also is not a monolithic party. I have got the highest regard for Shri Vajpayee. He is the senior most Leader. When I met him I only requested him to help us pass the Budget.
It is because I am more concerned. We have launched several new programmes. An incompetent Prime Minister for the first time has launched several programmes. For the slum clearance, we have provided Rs.330 crore. Last year they have spent Rs.250 crore for this programme. I am also in public life. I am not a new man. In the Central Budget when the money was allocated for the slums, we have launched several programmes. The Minister of Welfare is present here. The President of Congress(I) was also the Minister of Welfare. I am very much anxious and eager to ensure that even if I vacate the office, let the people get the benefit.
We have launched a Subsidised Food Programme. This PDS, I think, is in existence only in three or four States like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. We have launched a national programme for which we have provided Rs.7,500 crore this year in the Budget. Is it not a poverty alleviation programme? All the senior leaders who have spoken today have asked why they have chosen 30th March, before the Budget is passed. They could have decided to withdraw the support in the month of May on 9th or 10th after passing the Budget, after passing the Women's Reservation Bill on which my sister was attacking me and after passing the Lokpal Bill. What can I do? Heavens would not have fallen if they had withdrawn the support on 10th of May. What is that you have achieved? What is the sin that I have committed?
Sir, when I was sitting in the very same House, the former Minister of Finance, Dr. Manmohan Singh, in this very same place argued that we cannot give subsidy to the farmers. He said that subsidy would be removed through a phased programme in three years. He said that in the very same House. I argued from that place. Shri Shivraj Patil was presiding over the House at that time when I argued from that place. He said, `In the next three years, in a phased programme we are going to remove subsidy because I must take care of the fiscal deficit. IMF is dictating'. What he has said about the fertilizer subsidy on the floor of the House is on record. Within fifteen days, before I came to Parliament I took a decision to provide Rs.2,500 crore to my farming community. Do you mean to say that we are going to betray? You are under a dream. I may tell you today, knowing full well about the problem of my fellow farmers, that they are an exploited class in the society. I know it because I come from that community and it is not a caste. It is a class. This year we went a step further, we tried to provide about Rs.17,500 crore, including food subsidy and fertilizer subsidy for this section.
Sir, 32 crores of population is going to be covered under the PDS. Is this the sin that I have committed? The charge is that this Prime Minister has not taken care of poverty alleviation programme. Touch your heart and then you vote against the Confidence Motion. Touch your heart and then take a decision.
If I have betrayed the nation, then they can hang me and I would have no objection. You have got every right.
Sir, about the minorities - they have used them as a vote bank - I requested the hon. Finance Minister to provide at least Rs.100 crore this year. It is not so simple to bring them up and we are not going to leave them as it is at this stage.
Shri Antulay has made a solemn pledge in this House that he is not going to withdraw and he is going to stand by me. He can go according to the whip of the party; I am not going to find fault with him. He has expressed his sincere and genuine feelings.