Jaya in RS

At a time Parliament proceedings are lost in din, the maiden speech by Jayalalithaa 32 years ago in Rajya Sabha stands out argues for informed debate and not “wordy duels”.

Twenty days after she became a Rajya Sabha MP, she made her first speech in the Upper House on April 23, 1984 on debate on the working of the Ministry of Energy.

One who became a Rajya Sabha MP at the age of 36, she was aware of the media comments about the “present infusion of ‘young blood’ and at the beginning of her speech itself she had an assurance.

There is no need to harbour apprehension on this score, she said adding, “I give you my solemn word that I shall never fail to uphold the dignity, prestige and decorum of the Rajya Sabha, and I shall do nothing to detract from the lustre that has been added to it by the luminous personalities who have graced these hallowed portals, who are no longer with us, and to whom I pay my respectful homage as a new entrant.”

Jayalalithaa made her point soon that she knows that seniors could win an argument with their debating skills but cautioned them that “such a victory will be only a victory of words, and not triumph over truth”.

“I wish to emphasize the fact that the fundamental purpose of my speaking here in the Rajya Sabha is not to engage in wordy duels with other Members, but to state positive truths to the best of my knowledge and to draw the attention of the nation to certain crucial issues,” she added.

If the maiden speech was applauded for its lucid style, the other 18 speeches she made between 1984 April and January 1989 were eagerly listened to by other members.

From Jammu and Kashmir to Sri Lanka, she intervened in important debates on a variety of subjects. She was a regular speaker on debates on budgets.

Attacking the Congress government for dismissing Farooq Abdullah government, Jayalalithaa made a passionate speech against the use of Article 356 when she no government can be “thrown out of office with a mere flourish of a pen on paper – with one single stroke of a pen – whereby the signature of one individual has the power to render null and void – the mandate.”

However, she did not mince words in attacking Abdullah’s statements which were supportive of the militants though she said she did not question his patriotism.

(Dec 6, 2016)

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