Taking a jibe at the CPI-M that had expelled him from the party, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Friday said communism is nobody’s monopoly.
“I am a communist. Commu-nism is not anybody’s monopoly,” he said, when asked whether he still considered himself a comrade. Chatterjee was expelled after he refused to resign as Speaker when the Left withdrew support to the UPA government following differences over the India-US nuclear deal.
He, however, added that there was no question of taking on the party. “That is not my intention at all,” he said. The events surrounding his expulsion are likely to figure in his book expected in July. He claimed that after being chosen speaker he had disassociated himself from his party.
Chatterjee, 80, also said he was ready to take sanyas from active politics. “I want to show that politicians do retire’.’
Adding that the last four-and-a-half-year have been “very unhappy’’ for him.
Though Chatterjee remains the Speaker till a pro-term Speaker is appointed in the new Lok Sabha, he was virtually addressing his last press conference as he took stock of the high and lows of his tenure. He said it was the “saddest day of my life” when NDA chairman A.B. Vajpayee attacked him calling him partisan. He was grateful when Vajpayee later called on him and clarified.
He said he found it “unique’’ that that in India MPs fix their own salary and judges appoint judges. “In no other country does this happen,’’ said Chatterjee, who has been calling for a Salary Commission for the MPs. The third unique feature is that the Indian Parliament is the only one in the world to have its own TV channel, he said. Upset by the politics of confrontation in the House, Chatterjee favoured the “no-work, no pay’’ policy.
Commenting on BJP leader L.K. Advani’s suggestion to make it mandatory for the prime minister to be from the Lok Sabha, he said the idead was “theoretical”. “It cannot be a practical suggestion as the PM’s ability depends on the person and his policies,’’he said.