New Delhi, Sep 22 : “Grounded”, says Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “a journalist first”, say those who worked with him in ‘Prabhat Khabar’. Before Sunday’s ruckus even the opposition would acknowledge his unbiased approach.
Harivansh Narayan Singh, the Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha who is the opposition’s thorn right now, has been a Bihar politician who is proud of his Bihari roots, in spite of having been born in Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia. Even today, when he wrote an emotional letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, mentions of JP, poet Dinkar and Karpoori Thakur only reaffirm that point.
A quick recap of his life says 3 things about him – a meticulous journalist, someone who tends to listen to all sides but makes decisions according to his wisdom and a humble man with a socialist bent.
Him being a journalist was mentioned in the upper house even the day he won defeating RJD’s Manoj Jha. The JDU leader is often given credit for the success and wide readership of Prabhat Khabar in the Hindi heartland. It is his communication skills and no-nonsense approach, whose glimpse the house saw recently, that made then Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar pick him as his media advisor.
In 2014, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar decided to nominate him to the upper house. Later he went on to become Deputy Chairman. But this election for the post was necessitated after the post fell vacant when Harivansh Narayan Singh’s term in the Rajya Sabha ended. He has since been re-elected to the Upper House from Bihar.
By nature, he has been anti-establishment from his early years. No wonder he was part of the JP movement that caught the nation’s imaginations and changed the status quo of India’s polity. Even today, in his letter to President Kovind, he has mentioned that, “I was born in JP’s village. Not just that I was born, there has been a strong bond between JP’s family and the villagers, for generations.”
But it is his humility that attracted all sides, till Sunday’s ruckus in the upper house when opposition MPs like TMC’s Derek O’Brien aggressively approached him when he was conducting the house in order to pass the contentious farm Bills. O’Brien tore documents as AAP’s Sanjay Singh started clapping and even shoving the marshals. That resulted in 8 lawmakers being suspended for a week, which has caused much heartburn in the opposition ranks.
On the first day of this session when he won the Deputy Chairman election, Modi recounted an anecdote that not only reaffirms how grounded he is but also the respect he commands. “The respect I hold for Harivansh ji, each member of the House shares. He has earned this respect. His unbiased role in Parliament strengthens this democracy,” Modi had said.
Modi recounted how Singh had no shoes for a large part of his life and when he ordered one to be made by a village shoemaker, he would visit him regularly to see the progress just like a “rich person visits to see the progress of his bungalow”. Modi said it shows how grounded he has been all through his life.
Modi also narrated another anecdote when Singh spent his entire scholarship money on buying books, while Singh’s family expected the amount to be brought home. He said that the link between Singh and books continues till date.
Coming from India’s Prime Minister, it showed the respect he commands for his simplicity and humility. Even when Manoj Jha spoke that day, he confessed, “It was never a fight between two persons”.
It is his repute that made BJD promise to vote for him when Nitish Kumar dialled Odisha CM Navin Patnaik seeking his party’s support.
But Sunday’s unprecedented mayhem, which Modi describes as “insulting” and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in a hurried press conference the same evening dubbed as “shameful” seem to have altered the equation. Short of numbers, many opposition members snatched the Chair’s mike, tore documents and created ruckus to block two politically sensitive farm Bills. Later, no-confidence motions were also brought in against Singh. The next day, the Rajya Sabha Chairman instead suspended 8 MPs after going through CCTV and RSTV footage, say sources.
It started a chain of events with 8 lawmakers camping in Parliament House to register their protest while Singh brought them tea this morning to drive home a point. He told President Kovind that he will fast for a day while quoting Dinkar, a well known Hindi poet.
The BJP, meanwhile, has made it an issue of “attack on Bihar”. “I would like to mention a point here as every person in Bihar is deeply hurt. The people of Bihar will give a befitting reply to their behaviour,” said Bihar’s Deputy CM Sushil Modi.
But those close to him maintain, nothing changes as far as he is concerned. He remains the same old self who would respect difference of opinions but doesn’t entertain being disrespected, say his aides.
So who is Harivansh, after all? A Masters in Economics from the prestigious Banaras Hindu University (BHU), a politician with a socialist bent yet in a frictionless alliance with BJP, someone who stands his ground – that is Harivansh Narayan Singh.
Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.