New Delhi, Aug 1: Unfazed by his expulsion from the primary membership of the Communist Party of India last week, Somnath Chatterjee on Friday, August 1 asserted that he would continue to fulfil his obligations as and responsibilties as Lok Sabha Speaker with renewed strength.
Thanking the people for their overwhelming support from the country and abroad, Mr Chatterjee in a statement said: "Such responses, which I find unprecendented, emphasise the people's desire that Parliament should function properly and discharge its role in a serious and responsible manner and give me renewed strength to continue to fulfil my obligations and responsibilities as Speaker during my tenure." Mr Chatterjee was expelled by the party for disobeying its directive to resign the post before the UPA government trust vote which was necessitated after the party withdrew its support to the UPA, reducing its to minority.
In the five-page statement, Mr Chatterjee strongly defended his decision not to resign from the post and said "After weighing the pros and cons, I have consciously taken the principled decision to uphold the Constitution of India at the risk of being unjustifiably dubbed anti-party." He said in his four decades in Parliament he always tried to discharge his functions true to Parliamentary traditions.
Over the controversy raised by the party that while as Speaker, a member of Parliament should continue to be under direction and control of the party, Mr Chatterjee opined that a convention should start now that during his or her tenure as Speaker, a Member should temporarily resign the membership of the party and "not face a situation which compromises the position of Speaker vis-a-vis his or her party." The Speaker said long before the present controversy he had declared publicly that he would not contest any further election and devote the remaining period of his life in the service of the people, adding he would not accept a position, which would totally compromise the sanctity of the most important legislative office in the country.
The Speaker also rebutted the charge that he had not resigned the post to help any party or parties or on some other personal considerations. "I strongly and categorically deny these wholly baseless allegations," he said. Describing July 23, 2008 as one of the saddest days of his life when he was informed through the media of the summary explusion from his membership of the CPI-M, he recalled his 40-year old association with the party and acknowledged the role of the Party for giving him so many opportunities and onerous responsibilities to discharge.
He specifically thanked senior party leader and former West Bengal chief Jyoti Basu for giving him "unstinting support and courage." Mr Chatterjee said he was elected to the post of Speaker unanimously by all parties in 2004, which was unprecedented.
Thus my election to the high office of the Speaker was not only uncontested but was unanimous as all political parties proposed my name.
He said he had assured the leaders of various political parties that he would discharge his functions more as a duty rather than as an authority. Besides the non-party character of the office of the Speaker in our parlliamentary polity places on me a special obligation to be totally non-partisan and judicious while regulating the proceedings of the House.
"The Speaker of Lok Sabha, like Speakers of other elected Assemblies, while acting as such does not and cannot represent any political party and in the discharge of his or her duties and functions, the Speaker did not and does not owe allegiance to any political party and does not support any Party and consistent with that position, I have scrupulously kept myself away from all political activities whatsoever," he said.