Rajya Sabha was witness to a rare show of camaraderie on Thursday as members cutting across party lines demanded that CPM’s P Rajeeve be given another term. Among those requesting a fresh term for Rajeeve, was leader of the House Arun Jaitley.
Akali Dal’s Naresh Gujral went to the extent of demanding that government should nominate Rajeeve to the Upper House and give him the outstanding parliamentarian award for 2013-14. Nominated member Javed Akhtar said, “He has never seen such love and affection among members in the past.”
Rajeeve and M S Achutan of CPI retired on April 21 but could not give their farewell speech as the House was prorogued and could not meet on April 20 as scheduled earlier. However, both Rajeeve and Achutan were in the visitor’s gallery watching their ex-colleagues heap generous praise on them. But the hero of the day was Rajeeve who in his first term won everyone’s heart with his hard work and meticulous research of rules and procedures which often caused the government great discomfiture.
Jaitley said both Rajeeve and Achutan were “industrious members” who had near total attendance. “Rajeeve was industrious in digging out procedures. He researched various provisions. He was not willing to let go till the last minute. We all learnt from him. His departure makes our job easier,” he said, asking new CPM general secretary to get Rajeeve back.
Leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad called Rajeeve “encylopaedia of rules.” “I don’t think any member made a better use of his Ipad than Rajeeve. The House gained so much from him. Wish he exchanges his Ipad with mine.” BSP leader Mayawati said Rajeeve was her “neighbour in the House” who always came prepared. “I will request Yechury to get him another term,” she said.
Even more generous was Derek O’Brien belonging to Trinamool Congress, CPM’s arch-rival in Bengal. “Stranger things happen. Some one from Trinamool rises to bid farewell, by choice, to CPM leader. This is the beauty of parliamentary democracy.” Sharad Yadav of JD (U) said Rajeeve raised issues that strengthened the nation.
Yechury said Rajeeve’s exit from the House will be a big loss to his party. “Rajeeve has been given greater responsibility. He has been made party secretary of Ernakulam district which is politically very important. Kerala goes to polls next year. It is easy to call communists, anarchists but they do contribute to parliamentary democracy. They are the footsoldiers of secular democracy.” At this point Jaitley asked, “What about the assurance to get him back?”
Yechury said he respects opinion of the House and will apprise his party of the same.
Repartee continued for some more time between parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu and Yechury. “I used to admire those who fought communists. Even without knowing them I admired A K Antony, Vyalar Ravi, Saugata Roy and others for fighting communists. Rajeeve is very articulate. I was jealous of him and thought what is such a knowledgeable person doing in a communist party?” At this Yechury said, “He is knowledgeable and humble therefore he is a communist.”