On the last day of an extraordinarily acrimonious Lok Sabha, the battlelines blurred. MPs from the Left extolled the qualities of BJP veteran L K Advani, leaving him with moist eyes. Home Minister and Leader of the House Sushil Kumar Shinde gave a portion of the credit for the creation of Telangana to Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj. And everybody wished everybody else good luck, and expressed hope of meeting up again in the 16th LS.
“If the party (BJP) has become strong today, don’t mind (my saying this), you had an important role in it,” SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said, referring to Advani in his speech. “We had our differences…, but you (Advani) were made to sit from there (seat of the Leader of Opposition) to there (his present place), and it should not have been done. I say this, you are shrinking because of this (decision),” Mulayam told BJP members.
Members thumped their desks in endorsement, and an emotional Advani had difficulty fighting back tears.
CPM leader Basudeb Acharia recalled that former speaker G M C Balayogi used to call CPI leader Indrajit Gupta “the Father of the House” in the 13th Lok Sabha. “Now Advaniji is the Father of the House because he is the senior-most,” Acharia said, adding, “Sushmaji puts forth her views very effectively, we can call her the Sister of the House.”
Sharifuddin Shariq of the National Conference, who has often locked horns with the BJP, said, “My heart leaps to see such a great leader of the country like Advani Sahib, who is over 80, among us,” he said. “We used to come running to hear the speeches of Sushmaji, which reflected the feelings of the nation and the people,” he added.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has faced bitter attacks from the opposition, said the passage of the Telangana Bill had demonstrated that the country could take difficult decisions. He expressed hope that a new sense of consensus would emerge to carry the nation forward.
Shinde was at his charming best, acknowledging the “triveni” of Speaker Meira Kumar, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Swaraj. “It is a historic triveni (confluence of three rivers) of women,” he said. He lauded Kumar for effectively running the House, and told Swaraj, “Aap ki baat mein mithaas hai, mithai khaane se bhi nahin milti hai (The sweetness of your words is sweeter than sweets).”
Amidst the bonhomie, Swaraj, however, took a dig at Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath. “I am saying this with a lot of affection, if my brother Kamal Nath caused a complication with his mischief, respected Shindeji sorted it out with his decency. This House could function due to Soniaji’s mediation, who is was seated between this mischief and decency, the Prime Minister’s poise, your (Speaker’s) tolerance and Advaniji’s commitment to judiciousness,” she said, as the entire House cheered.
Actor Ramya, elected in a byelection in August, delivered her maiden speech. CPI’s Gurudas Dasgupta wanted to ask his “last supplementary question”. And Gursharan Kaur, the Prime Minister’s wife, sat in the Speaker’s gallery for about an hour, but left long before her husband arrived.