December 16, 2016 1:22:29 am
“Mujhe toh lagta hai resign kar jaaunga (I feel like resigning),” BJP veteran L K Advani, sitting in the front row of the treasury benches of Lok Sabha Thursday, told an unlikely listener: the Trinamool Congress’s Idris Ali, a first-time MP. Advani was expressing his displeasure about the continued Parliament logjam, the second time he has done so this session. But for Idris Ali and two other other BJP MPs, there was no other MP in the House Thursday when Advani spoke to the former. The House had just been adjourned for the day after the ruling and the Opposition sides had attacked each other. The Speaker had left, the mikes were turned off.
“Both sides will fight again tomorrow, the House will be adjourned sine die and people will say the session was a washout. Humaari badnaami hogi (we will earn a bad name),” Advani said. “Aisa kahin pe nahin hota. Not even in the House of Commons,” Advani was heard telling Idris Ali.
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had adjourned the House around 12:20 pm. The MPs shuffled out slowly but Advani, 89, wearing a blue golf cap, remained in his seat. He started talking. Textiles Minister Smriti Irani walked down from her seat a few rows behind and stood in front of Advani to ask what the matter was. He pointed towards the Opposition benches once, then towards the Speaker’s chair, seemingly making a point as Smriti was seen nodding.
By then, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had finished speaking to an MP and he too approached to listen to Advani. Presently, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar joined in but left the group almost immediately. MoS for Telecom and Railways Manoj Sinha joined the huddle for about a minute before he too left, as did MoS for Home Kiren Rijiju.
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“Discussion kyun nahin ho sakta? Both sides should sit together and decide to run the house,” Advani was heard stressing. “Tell them to call someone from the Congress and decide to have a discussion. Take my name and tell them,” Advani told Rajnath, who nodded and left. So did Smriti.
It was then that Idris Ali crossed over from the Opposition side and sat beside Advani. Two more BJP MPs came and stood there and Ali sat next to him and heard out Advani as he expressed his anguish again. “Mujhe bahut dukh hota hai (I feel very sad),” Advani said as Idris Ali and the other two listened in silence.
Advani picked up the list of business for the day in front of him, glanced at it and put it back. Then he picked up the list for question hour and put that back, too, again in silence. At one point he rubbed his eyes. In the aisle a few feet behind Advani, MoS for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha was seen in a lengthy discussion with Jharkhand MPs Ravindra Rai and Sunil Singh. Sinha was not among those who approached the veteran.
“Sab log lage hue hain hum jeetenge hum jeetenge, par Parliament har jaayegi,” Advani said again, before finally getting up to leave. At this point Idris Ali, wearing a specially designed shawl with Mamata Banerjee’s face printed on it, introduced himself. “Aap ka aashirwad chahiye,” Idris Ali was heard telling the BJP veteran.
“I want the House to run gracefully, even if just for a day,” Advani was heard replying. Advani left the empty Lok Sabha without any party functionary escorting him out. When journalists tried to ask him questions, he said, “I have nothing to say.” Outside, Idris Ali said Advani told him he was very sad to see the state of affairs of the House. “I asked him how is your health, he said he was fine but Parliament’s health was not fine,” Idris Ali said.
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