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Six decades of democracy

As India marks its sixtieth anniversary of elected governance, a look at the highs and the lows, the images and the events that have shaped us as a republic.

india Updated: May 12, 2012 01:57 IST

Hindustan Times

Memorable quotes and incidents

How it all began
The first Lok Sabha was constituted on April 17, 1952. Its first sitting was held on May 13, 1952. A two-minute silence was observed, and members took oath. On May 19, 1952, the first bill — the Essential Goods Bill — was introduced.

Who they were
The single largest professional group in first (1952-57) and second (1957-62) Lok Sabha was lawyers. In the third Lok Sabha (1962-67), however, agriculturists became the most numerous profession, a trend that continued from then on.

Women in the Lok Sabha
There were 22 women in the first Lok sabha. The sixth Lok Sabha (1977-79) had the lowest female representation at 21 women and the 15th Lok Sabha (at present) has the highest representation at 60 women.

Sittings and hours
The first Lok Sabha had the maximum number of 677 sittings; the 12th Lok Sabha (1998-99) had the lowest at 88. The fifth Lok Sabha (1971-77) met for the highest duration of 4071 hours while the 12th Lok Sabha (1998-99) for just 575 hours.

Longest serving members
The late Indrajit Gupta served the highest number of 11 terms in the Lok Sabha. Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Somnath Chatterjee are next with 10 terms each to their credit.

House disruptions

In the 13th Lok Sabha (1999-2004), 455 hours were lost in disruptions; in the 14th Lok Sabha (2004-09) 423 hours were lost. In the 1991-96 Lok Sabha, which too lasted its full term, a much lower 279 hours were lost to disruptions

'The Speaking Speaker'

Dr S Radhakrishnan once called the 2nd Lok Sabha Speaker Ananthasayanam Ayyangar 'Anantha-vachanam' (man of endless words) as he spoke a lot.

'Cool head, but not cold feet'
When army officers demanded ACs, defence minister Krishna Menon quipped, "I hope this keeps their heads cool, but doesn't give them cold feet."

A witty line about being bald
When PM Nehru said, "Not a blade grows on Aksaichin." Mahavir Tyagi pointed to his bald head: "Should I then surrender it to the enemy (China)?"

China goes to war with India
China attacked India on October 20, 1962, and the winter session was advanced. Nehru said on November 8, 1962, in Parliament: "A crisis has come and we have stood up to face it and meet the crisis."

The passing away of Nehru
Proceedings were interrupted at 2.15 pm on May 27, 1964, to break the sad news. Both houses adjourned immediately. Communist leader Hiren Mukherjee said, "It seemed the sun never shone on that clouded day."

Bachelor speaks for a lady
Ram Manohar Lohia argued that Stalin's daughter be granted political asylum in India. When Tarkeshwari Sinha asked why a bachelor should worry about women, Lohia replied, "Madam, When did you give me a chance?"

Of round figures and men
Swatantra Party MP Piloo Mody was overweight. Once, when accused of showing disrespect to the Chair by turning his back to it, Mody defended himself with the disarming words, "Sir, I have no back or front. I am round."

Bills introduced and passed
The highest number of Bills introduced (in either House) and passed was in the 5th Lok Sabha (1971-77) with 378 introduced and 487 passed. This Lok Sabha saw the Emergency (1975-77). The 11th Lok Sabha (1996-97) saw just 67 Bills introduced and 64 passed. The 1st Lok Sabha saw 274 Bills introduced and 319 passed, while the 14th Lok Sabha (2004-09) saw 219 Bills introduced and 247 passed.

Fewest and most questions asked
The third Lok Sabha (1962-67) spent the maximum time of 565 hours on questions while the 12th Lok Sabha (1998-99) spent the minimum 52 hours on questions.

Deliberating over union budgets
The third Lok Sabha (1962-67) spent the maximum 934 hours on budget while the 12th Lok Sabha spent the lowest 84 hours on it.

The nation enters a period of turmoil
The proclamation for Emergency was issued on June 25, 1975, on grounds of threatened internal disturbance. On July 21, 1975, Jagjivan Ram introduced resolution approving of the Emergency.

Houses pay tribute
On January 17, 1985, both houses paid tribute to assassinated prime minister Indira Gandhi, who had died on October 31, 1984, in a terrorist attack, when the house was not in session. The speaker moved a resolution: “The House mourns the loss of one of the greatest Indians of the twentieth century.” The resolution was unanimously adopted.

Kerala loves Rajiv
Member of Parliament Vakkom Purushothaman said about the Rajiv Gandhi government that though opposition parties claimed that the Centre had a step-motherly attitude towards Kerala, people there had given Rajiv Gandhi a huge mandate. Madhu Dandavate quipped, "Now, it's a step-fatherly attitude."

Short innings
The 11th Lok Sabha (1996-97) saw three PMs: Vajpayee for 13 days, Deve Gowda and IK Gujral. Gowda and Gujral were Rajya Sabha MPs. For the first time, a member of the Opposition, PA Sangma, was elected the Lok Sabha Speaker.

Bribery taint
In the 14th Lok Sabha (2004-09), the government won a vote of confidence after the Left withdrew support over the Indo-US nuclear deal. Three BJP MPs waved cash in Parliament alleging they were sought to be bribed.

Vajpayee's wit
When Somnath Chatterjee was elected as the Speaker of 14th Lok Sabha, AB Vajpayee said , "You have come from Bolpur. Lekin yahan zyada bolne se kaam nahin hoga. (But it won't work if you speak too much here)."

Birthright to be PM?
PM Manmohan Singh knows how to hit hard. Looking at BJP veteran LK Advani, Singh said Advani had never forgiven him as he (Advani) thought becoming PM was his birthright.

First Published: May 12, 2012 00:34 IST

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