‘The government has been anti our civilisational values.’
‘My fear would be that they erode that some more to have their way and to consolidate their power.’
“As a citizen of India and as a Member of Parliament, I only hope that the government does not do anything which goes against the spirit of what we stand for, what we have stood for, not just post-Independence history, but as a civilisation, we have believed in coexistence, inclusion and idea of taking everyone along,” Priyanka Chaturvedi, the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) Rajya Sabha MP, tells Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com as Parliament meets for a special session this week.
What are your apprehensions a day before the special session of Parliament is to be convened?
I don’t have any apprehensions, but I definitely have a concern as to why our systems were bypassed, where the Opposition was not taken into confidence before announcing the special session. Why did it come during the time when the INDIA summit was meeting in Mumbai and looked like a hurried decision?
As we stand today and before the session begins, we still don’t have the agenda. We still don’t have the agenda and the reason why a special session was needed to pass a few bills, which do not look like the high priority bills except for the Chief Election Commissioner bill.
My concerns are with regards to how democratic procedures and Constitutional norms are being bypassed and sidelined by this government every single day. It’s been in power for nine-and-a- half years and it has done everything which suits its fancy via the ordinance routes, via the demonetisation kind of ideas, etc.
So that as a citizen of India, more than as a member of Parliament, concerns me as to where we are heading in the future.
Would your concerns be shared by other MPs belonging to the INDIA alliance as well? What’s the mood among the MPs a day before the special session?
Absolutely! The entire alliance feels that this special session has been called for a purpose which hasn’t been shared, where we haven’t been taken into confidence and knowing the past of this government and how they introduced a lot of things (one could only expect surprises).
With regards to the land (reforms) bill, with regards to the farm bills there is a shared sense of concern that the autocratic functioning of the government totally bypasses the basis of what we envisage, our forefathers envisage, as a democratic model to pursue which is of an Opposition which keeps the government accountable and which also is being eroded every single day. We all share the similar concerns.
Is there any speculation among all the MPs that India would be renamed Bharat or India would become a Hindu Rashtra or something during the next five days of the special session of Parliament? Would you be surprised if there are no surprises?
Firstly, as far as the India-Bharat issue is concerned, we must understand that India in the Constitution itself is also known as Bharat. So there is no India versus Bharat scenario. So India, Bharat and Hindustan coexist in our terms of understanding how we look at a nation every single day.
Every Indian citizen uses the name interchangeably to India-Bharat-Hindustan.
For them to make it India versus Bharat is an unfortunate outcome of the alliance, which is opposing them coming together and naming themselves as INDIA, which speaks about developmental inclusive agenda of India.
If they really change India to Bharat with that sole silly purpose (thinking that they would weaken the INDIA alliance with the renaming of India to Bharat) then I would say it speaks max of the kind of hypocrisy of the government and its total lack of faith and belief in the Constitution.
In your opinion, where will our country be headed to from tomorrow? What are the feelings that come to you as a Member of Parliament and also as a citizen of India?
As a citizen of India and as a Member of Parliament, I only hope that the government does not do anything which goes against the spirit of what we stand for, what we have stood for, not just post-Independence history, but as a civilisation, we have believed in coexistence, inclusion and idea of taking everyone along.
The government, by its very essence has been anti our civilisational values. And my only fear would be that they erode that some more to have their way across and to consolidate their own power.
We’re seeing that with the CEC bill where they are downgrading the chief election commissioners and their roles to a Cabinet secretary level. You can imagine a chief election commissioner coming to the rank of a Cabinet Secretary — instead of a Supreme Court judge — who is below the Cabinet minister.
This clearly goes to show that they are eroding the institution of the Election Commission, the important role that election commissioners play in maintaining a free and fair electoral process.
And that is my concern. These are the concerns that we have been fighting for and will continue to fight against.
Is the INDIA alliance prepared with a strategy in case of any surprises that could come during the five-day special session of Parliament?
Absolutely! The INDIA alliance members will be meeting to decide on a joint strategy in case there are some surprises that come up and discuss how to prepare for it, how we will fight against it, and how we will ensure that there’s some accountability that we demand of the government.
There has been a sense of coordination with the coordination committee (of the INDIA alliance) meeting a week prior to the (special) Parliament session is to begin. There is a consensus as to how we need to tackle any kind of surprises that may come out of Mr Modi’s bag.
The INDIA alliance is prepared.
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