Tuesday, Dec 06, 2022

'The Younger Lot Remain Silent...'

'The Younger Lot Remain Silent...'

'...but that is because we do not get enough opportunity to raise our voice and issues.'

Transcript of BBC Hindi special programme Aapki Baat BBC Ke Saath with Lok Sabha MPs Sachin Pliot (Congress) and Manvendra Singh (BJP) and Rajya Sabha MP Jay Panda (Biju Janata Dal) on the one year of UPA and their first year in Parliament.

Nagendar Sharma: What have been your experiences one year after having made your debut in the highest forum of Indian democracy and having seen a different government?

Sachin Pilot : It was an exciting year, and I really did not realise how quickly the year passed. It has been an experience of a life-time, and Dr Manmohan Singh’s government has been the first coalition experience for our party. I think it has been a year of successes for us. I am fully aware of the fact that expectations from this government and the younger MPs is high, and I assure you that we would make all possible efforts to fulfil these. Our party has a good blend of youth and experience and the first year of young MPs in parliament and of the UPA government is a stepping stone for us to move ahead for the common man.

Manvendra Singh : During the past one year, I have learnt many lessons of my political life. But let me make it clear, the UPA government has not encouraged me at all, whatever I have learnt has been from the party seniors. I would call the UPA government as a government that came into existence by mistake. It did not have the mandate, but anti-BJPism has seen many diverse forces come together after the elections.

Jay Panda : Well, this is my first term as an MP, but I have now spent some time in Rajya Sabha. My feeling is that the present government has not done as well as it promised in the beginning. Despite having stars such as Dr Manmohan Singh, P Chidambaram and others, I feel that the dependence on Left Front has slowed down the economic reforms in the country, and presence of tainted ministers has damaged the government's image.

BBC listener from Rajasthan : All three of your represent the young India, but why is the youth of the country becoming increasingly alienated from politics?

Sachin Pilot : The image of politics and politicians has definitely taken a beating, and there is a perception in the younger generation of the country that character of politicians has taken a negative turn. Transparency in public life has to be made clearly visible to check this dangerous trend. However, despite this perception, the signal for the future is positive. What the political class of the country now needs to do to restore the faith of youth in politics is to address the issues facing them directly.

Jay Panda : Actually this has been because of the fact that during the past 50 years, majority of those who entered politics first concentrated on other careers, achieved success there and then turned to politics in the latter part of their lives. However, the demography of the country is changing now, we are seeing that a sizeable number of country’s population now is of those below twenty-five years of age. The next three-four years would see a youth resurgence in Indian politics.

Manvendra Singh : This question is for urban areas and big cities. I feel that the youth of rural areas are very much interested in the political developments and process of the country. There are definite reasons for urban youth being disenchanted from the political process -- issues such as employment etc., but the rural youth show remarkable interest.

BBC listener from Jamshedpur : But how do you, the young enthusiastic MPs, feel when there is ruckus in Parliament, and its proceedings are frequently disrupted?

Sachin Pilot : It is very unfortunate. The highest forum of democracy is for meaningful debate, but the opposition for the past one year has been insisting on boycotting Parliament and making a mockery of all of us in the eyes of the countrymen. The Prime Minister has himself said the government is ready to discuss all issues which the opposition wants, including that of the tainted ministers, but the opposition seems to have an agenda of disruptions .

Manvendra Singh : We owe it to the voters who have elected us to ensure that Parliament does not have tainted ministers and criminals. Now, when we wished to raise these issues, the ruling side did not allow us to speak for the entire year. We were left with no option than to walk out. The government has to ensure the smooth proceedings of Parliament. Has it ever happened earlier that the treasury benches are not even prepared to listen to what the other side wants to say?

Jay Panda : I feel really sad when I see the ruckus and disruptions, but then please look at the reasons why Parliament is disrupted: You have a government which is not even interested in listening to the opposition views. Remember the responsibility of running Parliament lies with the government. If it is their prerogative, then it is their responsibility also.

However let me also draw your attention towards an important fact. If you observe the proceedings of Parliament carefully, it shows that it is not the younger lot of MPs who disrupt the proceedings of the House. One can criticise that we the younger lot remain silent, but that is because we do not get enough opportunity to raise our voice and issues.

BBC listener from Delhi : Do you think any of the senior parliamentarians are a source of inspiration for the Indian youth and MPs like you ?

Sachin Pilot : Ours is a party which is more than 120 years old, and we have a glorious list of outstanding parliamentarians. However rising above party politics, I admire the Left MPs, they come thoroughly prepared to the House.

Manvendra Singh : I think L K Advani is an inspiration in Parliament. I watch his performances in the House very carefully.

Jay Panda : There are a lot of names in the NDA from Sushma Swaraj to Arun Jaitley, but I would not like to single out any of them.

BBC listener from Colombia (US) : I would like to ask Sachin Pilot that despite claiming to be a youth representative, isn’t it a fact that majority of MPs like you are there just because of your family names and fathers in majority of cases?

Sachin Pilot : I feel that the voters of our country are intelligent voters, they do not vote for extraneous reasons meaning family names etc. In a parliament seat you have around a million voters, if they have voted for a particular candidate, then the mandate has to be respected in a democracy. A few names like ours come into discussion and the entire debate is centred around those names, but do not forget that all the youth leaders elected to parliament, state assemblies or local bodies are not elected solely because of family names.