“I am delighted to be present here at the launch of the book, “Chandra Shekhar-- The Last Icon of Ideological Politics” written by the Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha, Shri Harivansh and Shri Ravi Dutt Bajpai.
Indeed, the late Shri Chandra Shekhar Ji, who rose from a humble background to become the country’s Prime Minister, had never swerved from the ideology and the principles in which he believed in.
As it was pointed out in the introductory chapter, the book narrates “the story of an ordinary man who did not inherit a grand legacy from well established or renowned family, who did not rely on family wealth and eminence, who did not attend any of the prestigious educational institutions in the country or abroad and who did not command the vote bank of a specific class, caste of community”.
Continuing in the same party, especially when it is not in power, might sound a bit anachronistic to some of the present day politicians, but men like Shri Chandra Shekhar were never attracted by the trappings of power. He always believed that politics was meant to serve the marginalized and deprived sections and not a vehicle to achieve power alone.
The authors have aptly described him as a politician whose public and private personas were identical.
I hope that his life will continue to inspire the politicians of the younger generation, especially at a time when ideology is taking a back seat.
It is important for them to learn about a man who did not change his beliefs, principles, opinions, and friends to suit the changing political scenarios.
I must compliment Shri Harivansh Ji and his co-author for covering various facets of the leader right from his young days. The book contains several interesting anecdotes relating to Shri Chandra Shekhar’s life and captures his humane qualities and his concern for the uplift of the marginalized sections.
It traces his political journey and his evolution into one of the country’s top socialist leaders, his association with the Congress party, his role as a Young Turk, his stint in the Janata Party and his tenure as the Prime Minister of India.
His lifelong struggle to achieve socio-economic parity for the sections of the Indian society should be understood by every individual entering public life. I hope this book gives them a good understanding of the man who was fearless and led life by principles.
One of the striking qualities of Shri Chandra Shekhar was that he was not only committed to lofty ideals but always maintained decorum and dignity at all times irrespective of whether he was holding an office or not.
As the authors pointed out, Chandra Shekhar had “keen sense of conduct, etiquette and decency and was extremely courteous to his seniors, colleagues, associates and juniors. He believed in utmost civility, genuine equality and inviolable dignity in his inter-personal interactions”.
Chandra Shekhar Ji, who always opposed authoritarianism and personality-based politics, was among the important leaders arrested during the Emergency although he belonged to the Congress Party.
In his efforts to understand the ground realities and sufferings of the people, Shri Chandra Shekhar undertook a marathon walk from Kanyakumari to Rajghat in New Delhi.
In the nearly six-month journey, he covered around 4000 km and interacted with the common man to understand his problems.
In my view, this activity was the best way to get acquainted with people’s problems and expectations.
For me as well as for every Member of Rajya Sabha, it should be a matter of pride and satisfaction that Chandra Shekher ji, at a young age of 35 years in 1962, began his parliamentary career from Rajya Sabha.
He was Member of Rajya Sabha for three terms from 1962-77. After that, except for the 8th Lok Sabha, he remained the Member of Lok Sabha till 2004.
My colleague and Deputy Chairman, Shri Harivansh Ji, an erudite person, who is wedded to JP’s ideals and believes in simple living and high thinking, knew Shri Chandra Shekhar Ji from close quarters.
The book will be a useful reference for the Members of Parliament, researchers, political scientists and all others interested in contemporary Indian politics.
Dear sisters and brothers, unfortunately, we are witnessing an all-round degeneration of values in different fields today. The lack of respect for decorum and traditions, absence of discipline and practice of politics without ideology and the promotion of personality-based politics are a matter of concern for one and all.
As we witness regrettable violation of our rich Parliamentary values and traditions, the relevance of personalities like Chandra Shekhar becomes even more acute. We are accountable not only to parliamentary practices and procedures but also to the parliamentary legacy left behind by Parliamentarians like him. We must pause and ponder if we are doing justice to that rich legacy.
Politics should be based on principles and programmes and people should select and elect and their representatives on the basis of 4Cs - Character, Capacity, Caliber and Conduct, and not on the basis of Caste, Community, Cash and Criminality—a trend seen in some areas but largely ignored in most parts of the country as is evident from the recent Lok Sabha elections.
I would also like to recall that senior Parliamentarian, Shri L.K. Advani ji used to always emphasize that ideal behavior was more important than ideology. The time has come for all political parties to evolve a code of conduct for their members in public life as well as in Parliament and legislatures to raise the level of public discourse.