Coffee with HT: Half a glass of water, films and a ‘House’ to run
Dikshit 72, a four term lawmaker who is all set to preside over the first ever 36-hour marathon session of the UP assembly on sustainable development goals (SDGs) in OctoberUpdated: Sep 19, 2019 05:26 IST
UP Assembly Speaker Hriday Narain Dikshit can recall the number of ‘parathas’ he has had from childhood till date (“not more than 150”) with as much clarity as the films he has liked so far.
Visit his office and chances are that you will be greeted with a ‘half-full’ glass of water, an initiative of his which has now been adopted by the state government to signal its water conservation intent.
He can also tell you that the Rig Veda contains about 10,500 mantras, which he is putting together in his new book (his 33rd) to offer a condensed, easy insight into the learnings packed in the ancient relic.
Dikshit 72, a four term lawmaker who is all set to preside over the first ever 36-hour marathon session of the UP assembly on sustainable development goals (SDGs) in October, opened up about the lesser known aspects of his life, the initiatives he has taken as Assembly Speaker in 2.5 years, and more in a free-wheeling interaction at the Hindustan Times Lucknow office on Wednesday.
He has not watched a single film in these 2.5 years as Speaker. “None,” he says while admitting that he is a film buff who watched ‘Aakrosh’, a Govind Nihalani film, several times as much for its strong message as for the filmmaker’s treatment of the subject. “Those who watched it would recall that the protagonist doesn’t speak at all in the movie,” he says breaking into a hearty laugh.
“I was a bit disappointed that Lucknow didn’t treat ‘Lekin’, the only film produced by Lata Mangeshkar, well. My thinking was having sung all her life for other filmmakers, she would put in an extra effort in her own movie. And I was right,” he says.
Though his busy schedule has kept him away from theatre, yet his love for films and music has come in handy even in running the lower house.
In one of the sessions of the UP assembly when an angry leader of the opposition Ram Gobind Chaudhary was fuming at the government, Dikshit brought the house in order with a filmi quip – ‘Dekha hai pehli baar, saajan ki ankhon main pyaar’ from the 1991 hit flick ‘Saajan’. An angry Chaudhary smiled and that was it! “It’s a part of the proceedings of the house,” says Pradeep Dubey, principal secretary UP assembly, who was also present at the interaction on Wednesday.
A speaker with several firsts – organising workshop to understand GST for lawmakers, another one to understand parliamentary practices for journalists and one in whose tenure so far the house never has been short on quorum (minimum members required for functioning of the house) – he has penned three books dedicated to the importance of ‘sweets and sweetness’ in the life.
Shouldn’t a speaker be apolitical? “The speaker should be non political but is expected to be apolitical. I think this is what leads to confusion,” he says adding, “As for me, I didn’t campaign in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls because I wanted to be non-political.”
As Speaker he has also called up lawmakers, including those from the opposition whenever he has found them good in their argument.
Would he reward good performers? “That’s a good suggestion. I will look into it,” he offers.
All set to leave on a foreign tour of London and Uganada, he says, “Wherever I have traveled out of Lucknow, I have tried to utilise the visits to write.” His upcoming foreign visits would be no different. Instead of sight seeing, Dikshit, an MA in economics, intends to rather complete his upcoming book.
Though BJP has a brute majority in the 403 member UP assembly, Dikshit says he never considers opposition in terms of numbers. “There was a time when the BJP had only 2 Lok Sabha MPs. I think opposition must offer alternative thought. That’s more important,” he says.
UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath had organised a special screening of the film ‘Uri’ – based on India’s counter attack to Pakistan-sponsored terror strike. Would he also organise a film screening for lawmakers? “Interesting thought. But very often we ourselves become films!” he says with a hearty laugh.