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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 17 New Delhi April 13, 2019

Open Letter to Chowkidar Narendra Modi

Saturday 13 April 2019

by BINOY VISWAM

Respected Chowkidar Shri Narendra Modi,

When you yourself took up the title of chowkidar, you told the people that you are the watchman of the country. There will be many who believed that you are taking up the responsibility of protecting Parliament and the Constitution. But the gap between what you said and what you have done has led to the astonishment of many. The Indian Constitution has taught us that the basic pillars of Democracy are Parliament, the Executive and the Judiciary. The responsibility of the Executive towards Parliament is also an undeniable principle of the Constitution. I am compelled to write this letter because I want to ask you whether these principles are not valid in your case. When you are completing five years of your “watchmanship”, how much responsibility has been shown by you towards Parliament? During these five years on how many days have you attended the Parliament sessions? This nation has not yet forgotten the moment of your entry into Parliament as the chowkidar of the country. Before entering Parliament, the sanctum sanctorum of Democracy, to take the oath, you bowed before the steps of Parliament. Was it a drama enacted before the world media?

The past five years of your rule have proved that you are the Prime Minister who expressed maximum disregard towards Parliament. The period in which you were the chowkidar, were the years the Lok Sabha met the least. In between 2014 June and 2019 February the Parliament was in session only for 331 days. During the past history of all the governments which completed five years, Parliament met on an average for 468 days. This shows the hollowness of the drama on that first day. Out of these 331 days, on how many days were you present in Parliament? People of the country will be naturally curious to know. Unofficially it is heard that it will be only about 30 days.

I believe that it is crucial to have the authentic information before the citizens. Hence as a Member of the Upper House of Parliament, the Rajya Sabha, I had raised this question. But the reply received to that simple but important question has thoroughly embarrassed and disappointed me. As a Member of Parliament I thought it necessary to share that agony with you, as you are the Prime Minister; and hence this open letter.

My question was: “On how many days was the Prime Minister present in Parliament during the entire period of the 16th Lok Sabha?” I have raised the question observing the notice period of February 11, 2019 when Parliament was in session. But till the end of the session I did not receive any reply to the question. However, a few days back I received a letter dated February 22 by post from the Rajya Sabha Secretariat. The letter says that my question is inadmissible because the matter was under the purview of the power of the Lok Sabha/Rajya Sabha Secretariat. It also drew my attention to Rule 47 (2)(viii) and (xx) of the Rules of Procedure. Hence I examined the relevant rules of the Rules of Procedure. The concerned rules say that no questions which have no connection with the official functions of the Government or the Ministers are admissible.

Respected Chowkidar, that is exactly the real issue. Is the presence of the Prime Minister in Parliament not an issue concerned with the official functioning of the Government? How can a Government, which believes that the presence of the Prime Minister in Parliament is unnecessary, fulfil its responsibility to Parlia-ment? May I expect a proper reply to my relevant question? I wish you could spare some time from your busy schedule of stockpiling weapons on earth, air and outer space.

Truly yours,

Binoy Viswam

The author, a member of the Rajya Sabha, is a former Minister of Forests and Housing in the erstwhile LDF Government in Kerala. He is also a member of the CPI’s Central Secretariat and hence a Secretary of the party’s National Council.

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