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At 60,House honours two who saw beginning

Keishing,93,a former chief minister of Manipur,is now a member of Rajya Sabha.

On Sunday,members of both houses of Parliament will get the opportunity to hear views on the state of India’s democracy from two veterans who have literally seen it all — Rishang Keishing and Resham Lal Jangade,the only surviving members of the first Lok Sabha (1952-57).

Keishing,93,a former chief minister of Manipur,is now a member of Rajya Sabha. Jangade,a close associate of Babu Jagjivan Ram,lives in a small,two-room home near the Raj Bhawan in Raipur. Speaker Meira Kumar visited him during a visit to Chhattisgarh’s capital in January.

President Pratibha Patil will felicitate both veterans at a ceremony to commemorate the 60th anniversary of India’s Parliament.

Jangade told The Indian Express over the phone that elected representatives were different in his time. “Times have changed so much. Earlier,MPs and MLAs did their job diligently and without corruption. Now,things have changed,” he said.

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Keishing agreed. “In the past,MPs were very disciplined and entered the House with the sole aim of serving the people. Maybe,it was because we were fresh from the freedom struggle. We maintained decorum,Speaker’s ruling was strictly obeyed. Nobody disrupted the House or shouted slogans inside the House. Today,it pains me to see that decorum is not being maintained.”

Jangade,now 88,was a member of the first and second Lok Sabha until 1962,following which he served three terms as MLA in Madhya Pradesh.

His younger son Hem Chandra,who lives with him,said,“My father never made a single rupee through corruption. That is why we live in a two-room house. But though he didn’t earn money,he earned the respect of a large number of people.”

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Jangade started in the Congress,but quit in 1972 after being denied party ticket for the assembly elections. He contested as an independent and won,and in 1977,joined the Jan Sangh. He remains a member of the BJP.

Though happy at being recognised by Parliament,he regrets none of the state BJP leaders greeted him. Framed photographs of L K Advani and A B Vajpayee remain in the showcase along with his trophies at his modest home.

Asked if the quality of debate had fallen since he first entered Parliament,Keishing replied in the affirmative. “In the first to third Lok Sabha we had great leaders and good orators…. When they spoke,everyone heard with rapt attention. But I don’t see that happening now. It saddens me. Also,I feel politicians now don’t have so much love and concern for the people who give them power.”

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Lok Sabha Secretary General T K Viswanathan said,“These two leaders were among the first few who laid the foundation of Indian democracy. By honouring them,we are honouring the institution of democracy.”

With Ashutosh Bhardwaj/Raipur

First published on: 10-05-2012 at 12:50:04 am
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