Apparently hitting out at CPM which had expelled him,Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said he remains a Communist as Communism is not anybody’s monopoly.
The 80-year-old veteran parliamentarian,addressing a press conference a day after presiding over the last session of 14th Lok Sabha,said however he will not rejoin politics and will take ‘sanyas’ (retirement).
Asked whether he still considers himself a ‘comrade’ after the CPM expelled him,Chatterjee said,”I am a Communist. Communism is not anybody’s monopoly.”
He was expelled by CPM before the trust vote of July 22,2008 for refusing to quit as Speaker even after the Left withdrew support to UPA on the issue of Indo-US nuclear deal.
To a query whether he would contest elections,Chatterjee said the question has lost its topicality as he has already announced taking sanyas.
Asked whether he would accept a Gubernatorial assignment after his retirement,he quipped “Who will give me?”
“I am selecting a place to stay after retirement,” said a relaxed Speaker,known for his serious headmaster-like attitude in conducting the proceedings of the House.
Chatterjee said the saddest day of his life was when the Opposition NDA accused him of being partial.
Recalling that he was pained by the criticism,the Speaker said he even thought of resigning. This was in mid-2006.
“My letter of resignation was ready,” he said adding that after NDA chairman Atal Bihari Vajpayee drove to his residence and leaders of other parties persuaded him not to quit,he decided to continue.
Rubbishing the charge that he was partial,the Speaker said there was not a single major issue which he did not allow the Opposition to raise.
On the hurried passage of eight bills without any discussion towards the fag end of the last session in December,2008,Chatterjee defended himself by saying the government too has some responsibility.
“See the footage of three days. The House did not function. The government too has some responsibility. It has the responsibility to bring bills and see they are adopted,” he said.
Asked when he felt badly let down,Chatterjee posed “are you interested in making a psycho-analysis? I cannot divulge everything. Otherwise my book will not sell”.
Chatterjee plans to pen his memoirs after his retirement and spend time reading,listening to music,preferably songs from Oscar-winner ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.
Chatterjee,who had said yesterday that he had received encouragement and affection from CPM leaders particularly Jyoti Basu,said he had natural leaning to the Left.
He also said that he was in minority within his party when he favoured that Basu should be the Prime Minister.
Referring to frequent disruptions in the proceedings of Lok Sabha,Chatterjee said he was of the view that MPs who do not work should not be paid.
The Speaker said that even his wife objected to his taking salary for the day when he adjourned the House for the day within minutes of its sitting.
When the veteran Parliamentarian was reminded of the belief that politicians never retire,Chatterjee said,”I want to show that politicians do retire”.
Asked about his views on codification of the privilege of MPs,Chatterjee said there was no intention to punish anybody. “But,some actions have to be taken,” he said.
He also said it was a national shame that people were committing suicide because of financial reasons.