It has been very easy for jurist and successful politician Jagdeep Dhankar to become the Chairman of Rajya Sabha by winning the post of Vice President with a good majority. But during the coming months and years, there will be a big challenge in the Rajya Sabha to handle the strong resistance of the Opposition in the House on the Constitution Amendment Bill or some important proposals of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, like the removal of Article 370 of the Constitution. In the post of Vice President, the constitutionalist was a politician in the past, and I have seen such occasions in the press gallery of the Rajya Sabha when senior members of the ruling party started strongly opposing the decision of the Chairman. Therefore, it will also be necessary to handle the government and the opposition within the constitutional limits, thus giving them neutrality. Different stages of Dhankar’s political journey: The experiences of the Janata Dal, Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh can help play a decisive role in some historic decisions of the government and Parliament.
This post has the responsibility of following the tradition of Dr. Radhakrishnan. It was written about him that, on the strength of his soft smile, spontaneity, humor, and scholarship, he had won the hearts of the members of the Rajya Sabha. Despite the low numbers, even at that time, the veteran leaders of the opposition were in the house. Not only this, later accepted the presidency on Nehruji’s great request, but when the opposition demanded the resignation of Defense Minister Krishna Menon after the defeat in the war with China, he removed Menon by applying all possible pressures.
Some qualities of Jagdeep Dhankar-Vinod Vritti and constitutional knowledge is in line with their tradition. Gopal Swarup Pathak, R. Venkataraman, and Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma played important roles in the Rajya Sabha several times as law and constitutional experts. Not only the opposition but also the leaders of the ruling party were strictly controlled. I would say it was my good fortune that as a journalist during his presidency, I got the opportunity to watch the proceedings of the House and write news. During the tenure of Venkataraman, there was a huge uproar in the House over the details of the Fairfax scandal and the correspondence between the President-Prime Minister. At that time the operation of the house, giving full opportunity to the opposition, and playing the role of the mediator is said to be a great achievement ideal. An incident in the tenure of Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma is historical, and I can never forget from being an eyewitness. Dr. Sharma became the Vice President after holding the posts of party President, Union Minister, and Governor from a young age. After a few months in the Rajya Sabha, Telugu Desam Leader of the Opposition P Upendra permitted Dr. Sharma to raise the issue of spending more than the norm set by Andhra Pradesh Governor Kumud Ben Joshi. Now the members of the ruling party have created a ruckus. P Chidambaram argued on behalf of the government that the issue of the Governor could not be raised in the House. Law Minister P Shivshankar started garnering knowledge of some laws and constitutions. Despite more uproar, Dr. Sharma was not ready to change the decision and left the house, saying that he would resign. This has become a major constitutional crisis. Several leaders, including senior Congress leader Narasimha Rao, asked the Vice President to withdraw the decision with an apology. As far as I am aware, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi also met him personally and assured him that there would be no lack of respect for him. Not only this, but the opposition also urged Dr. Sharma to remain in the post. The issue was discussed for two to three hours, and Upendra withdrew his special mention.
The mention of these incidents can be a lesson for all the parties in the current context during the tenure of the new chairman Jagdeep Dhankar. During the last two years, there were occasions of serious confrontation in the House and the members had to be suspended for a period. Now the opposition is even more uprooted. In Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, even after a long four-hour discussion on inflation, and GST, the Congress leader, along with Rahul Gandhi, tells the world that he is allowed to speak on inflation in the House. It was a matter of debate. In the coming time, the Narendra Modi government can put historical but politically controversial subjects like Constitution Amendment Bill for Uniform Civil Code Act in the House. There will be a situation of serious opposition from the opposition on some of the decisions on Jammu and Kashmir. After Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh, the atmosphere of the house can be frightening on some decisions before the elections. This time for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the very existence of the opposition is under threat. The government has to handle the street conflict with the House.
Taking this in view, even in the election of Jagdeep Dhankar, getting the support of the rival Telugu Desam Party of Andhra and the YSR Congress, Biju Janata Dal, Bahujan Samaj Party, parties of Chautala family of Haryana, etc. can increase his confidence. When Dhankar was in Congress for a few years, Narasimha Rao was in the government, and then he had relations with many Congress leaders including Sharad Pawar. He left the party in displeasure over the growing influence of Ashok Gehlot. Later on, he also had a formal relationship with him. Therefore, in the coming years, we can be successful in convincing many members from personal relationships as well. His farmer’s son claim is not on paper. He was brought into politics by Chaudhary Devi Lal and Chandrashekhar appointed him the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs when he became the Prime Minister. Even though the tenure was short, at that time it was more difficult to handle the House. His experience will be beneficial for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but members of the BJP or allies will have to tread carefully. There is no doubt that the tenure of Dhankar ji can prove to be a new record and a new chapter in the history of Parliament.
(The author is editorial director of ITV Network India News and Aaj Samaj)
The mention of these incidents can be a lesson for all the parties in the current context during the tenure of the new chairman Jagdeep Dhankar.