‘Congress leaders ensured consensus in Constituent assembly’

Congress president and LoP, Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge (Photo:ANI)

Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday said the Congress party leaders took pains to accommodate every point of view in the drafting of the Constitution and gave due weight to the Opposition’s voice.

Participating in the discussion on “Parliamentary Journey of 75 years starting from Samvidhan Sabha – Achievements, Experiences, Memories and Learnings,” on the eve of the shifting of Parliament to its new building, he said the old Parliament House was a witness to all important decisions of Independent India.

The Constituent Assembly sat in the old Parliament House for 165 days in 11 sessions to write the Constitution. The Constitution was enforced from 26th January, 1950. On 26th November, 1949, when the document was adopted, there were 53,000 visitors to witness the last debate, Mr Kharge said.


It was true, he said, as Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankar had stated that the Constituent Assembly had during its long tenure never had any disruptions.

Mr Kharge said that it was then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who took pains to take everybody along on any issue. This was akin to laying foundations of great structures. While one benefits from the institutions, one is not able to see the strong foundations that are buried underground, he said.

The role of the Congress leaders in ensuring consensus in the Constituent Assembly was acknowledged in writing by Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee B R Ambedkar, the chief architect of the Constitution, Mr Kharge said.

The Constitutional fathers were worried about values of freedom, equality, justice, human glory and democracy as they had fought for them only, he said.

The Constitution created by them is keeping the nation united and providing a strong structure. The document is the nation’s biggest guide and provided for adult franchise.

Mr Nehru had included five members of the Opposition including Mr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee in his Cabinet and gave them important portfolios, Mr Kharge said.

The present Government, he said, wants to stay away even from the shadow of the Opposition. Mr Nehru respected Parliament and used to listen to speeches of young MPs with great patience, he said.

Mr Kharge said Mr Nehru used to say a strong Opposition is must for the strength of the democratic system. Today, attempts are made to weaken the Opposition, he said. The Prime Minister visits every part of the country, but keeps away from Manipur which has been witnessing unrest for a long time.

Mr Kharge said the Women’s Reservation Bill should be passed during the session and women should be given their due. Women have only 10 per cent membership in the Rajya Sabha and 14 per cent in the Lok Sabha. It was even lower earlier. The Vidhan Sabhas have just 10 per cent women’s membership. In western countries this percentage has improved significantly.

Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the Opposition was never steamrolled under Mr Nehru’s Government and the Speaker’s bell used to ring even for him. Discussing Parliament without mentioning Nehru would be talking about Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark.

Mr Chowdhury said the contribution of Congress leaders in the nation’s history cannot be ignored. The Pokaran nuclear explosion was carried out during then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s term. The Indo-US Civil Nuclear Deal was signed during former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Government.

Then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi initiated the Panchayati Raj laws, while current Congress leader Sonia Gandhi had contributed to the passing of the MGNREGA law during Dr Manmohan Singh’s Government. The Congress Government under Dr Singh had passed historic laws like the Right to Education, Food Security, Right to Information, and Right to Fair Compensation laws.