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Somnath anguished by Vajpayee letter

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Aug 25: Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee today said he decided to resign following the letter from former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee questioning his style of functioning, but he gave up the idea after he was persuaded by a vast majority of MPs and many citizens, including some from abroad.

''In fact, I have received several mails from the citizens of this country asking me not to resign,'' he told mediapersons after the adjournment of the Lower House sine die at the end of a month-long Monsoon Session.

''The letter of Mr Vajpayee had indeed created great anguish and pain because the author of the letter was a highly respected person.'' In this context, he said he had been discharging his responsibilities according to his ability and subject to rules and procedures of the house.

Mr Chatterjee said he did not have any personal interest and his only consideration was the national interest. ''I treat all the political parties equally and used to give maximum opportunities to the Opposition and others to raise the people's issues.'' On yesterday's clash between RJD and JD(U) members on the floor, the Speaker said he had no words to describe the amount of shame that the incident had brought to the institution of Parliament.

''It was a sad day... It was very painful. The incident also exposes how we are failing our nation and in the discharge of our duty. The members do not realise the consequences of such a scene being watched by our people.'' Pointing out that he had been meeting the leaders of all the political parties before the beginning of the session to ensure a smooth business, Mr Chatterjee regretted that many a time the leaders did not keep up their promise of helping the chair in this regard.

He, however, hoped that the members would not resort to the kind of incident that had been enacted in the House yesterday.

Mr Chatterjee said the Monsoon Session had begun on July 24 with an adjournment motion by the BJP which is not generally allowed.

This, he said, was because of the fact that the request for the same was made by the main Opposition party.

Mr Chatterjee also regretted the increasing tendency among some members to get the House adjourned on some issue. "They feel happy on their success as if it is their sole objective," he said. The Speaker said he was not here to advise the members but sharing his agony how useful time was lost due to adjournments on trivial matters.

On a question whether the MPs should decide about their own salaries, Mr Chatterjee said he had also objected to this system and suggested that there should be an independent statutory institution to look after this issue.

The Speaker said he was also trying to find out if such a system was being followed in any other country.

He said Prime MInister Manmohan Singh had also written to him, agreeing with his suggestion that there should be a statutory body to decide on the salaries of the Members of Parliament. The matter seemed to be under active consideration of the Government, Mr Chatterjee said.

The Speaker said he was keeping himself away on the issue of taking back the expelled MPs saying the matter was to be decided by leaders of various political parties.

Similarly, on the Office of Profit issue, the Speaker said he kept himself out when the debate on the matter was taken up in the House.

Mr Chatterjee expressed his satisfaction over the conduct of maximum business listed for the 22-day session.


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