Updated: March 24, 2015 9:32:24 am
To villagers of Mithila region, his speeches bring memories of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. To his colleagues in Parliament, his rustic style is a reminder of Lalu Prasad.
Hukmdev Narayan Yadav is 76, an MP into his fifth term now. However, it is his recent, fiery speeches that have suddenly shot him into prominence in Parliament and on social media.
In the winter session, while participating in a debate, Hukmdev had roared: “Why can’t we restructure MGNREGA and the Food Security Act? Kya yeh param Brahma parameshwar ka avatar hain (are they incarnations of God)?” Then, even the BJP benches had hesitated to applaud him.
Last week, however, the treasury benches relished it when he spoke in support of Arun Jaitley’s budget, the first from the BJP to do so, by lauding the finance minister for not being “Harvard-educated” and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for fulfilling Ram Manohar Lohia’s dreams, and attacking the Congress “for turning farmers into dogs”. Hukmdev, a champion of farmers’ rights, was minister of state for agriculture in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government.
A socialist when he began in 1960, loyal to Lohia’s principles, Hukmdev joined the BJP in 1993 and is now an admirer of Modi. BJP insiders say Modi too has a soft corner for the Yadav leader, who describes bhajan-kirtan and yoga as his favorite pastimes and kabaddi and gulli-danda as his favourite sports. His feisty speech at Modi’s election rally in Patna — the one where an explosion took place — impressed many party leaders
In Parliament last week, Modi, like everyone else, couldn’t contain his laughter during Hukmdev’s 30-minute speech. “They say this government has done nothing in nine months. That, in nine months, a child can be born but this government did nothing,” Hukmdev observed. “What an unscientific argument! Yes, it is a law of nature that a child is born in nine months. But can that child then have a baby of its own in another nine months? How illogical! This government itself was born nine months ago.”
During the same speech, he attacked the caste system and the nearly five decades of Congress rule. “I have suffered so much in the system that I used to think, if I had the power, I would uproot this entire government and perform its last rites in Gaya, so that it never returns. It has forced us to live a life worse than that of dogs,” he said.
He mocked past as well as recent Congress policies. “Why don’t your big economists and planners live on one kilo rice every month? You want us to become beggars,” he said, as Modi nodded approvingly.
Always seen walking around in Hawaii chappals and a saffron stole around his neck in Parliament, Yadav is known to be stubborn about his caste constituency. In Madhubani, which has a large number of upper castes, the Yadav leader has often refused to visit the houses of Brahmins and Bhumihars. In the Lok Sabha elections, what worked in his favour was the consolidation of the BJP’s upper caste base and his base among the backward classes.
Having become a talking point in BJP circles, he might well be the party’s answer to orators Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar in the upcoming Bihar assembly elections.
HukmSpeak Lok Sabha, March 16
“They say that in nine months a child can be born but this government did nothing. What an unscientific argument! Yes, it is a law of nature that a child is born in nine months. But can that child then have a baby of its own in another nine months? How illogical!”
“Harvard economists will destroy this country. A Hindustani economist is needed. Like Arun Jaitley.”
“You say you gave food security. We are the ones who produce the food, we are the ones who slog in the fields, and you treat us like beggars. ‘Everyone will get one kilograms rice and three kilos wheat’. You are big people, economists. Why don’t you live on one kilo rice every month?”
“You oppose just for the sake of opposing, because you have to justify your opposition status. If you wish, send your leaders to me for six months of training to learn what we used to do when we were in opposition. If you have to take part in a drama, you should learn from a director.”
“I am all for removing all caste-based reservation if the House agrees. But just make one provision. Make inter-caste marriages compulsory for government jobs.”
“Yes, you (Congress) decreased dependence on agriculture, but how? Did you make us officers, give employment, set up industries, give us cycles, motorcycles? We were farmers, you made us labourers… made us live a life worse than that of insects.”
“You say 26% people are poor but decide to distribute food to 70-80% people. What kind of figures do you have?”
“It is to the credit of the BJP that Hukmdev Narayan Yadav, who never let a party rest in peace, has been accommodated for 20 years now.”
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