Hamid Ansari

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January 28, 2021: The Times of India

PM asked me why I wasn’t letting ‘bills be passed in a din’: Ansari in memoir

New Delhi:

PM Narendra Modi had asked then Vice President Hamid Ansari why bills were not being passed in a din during a conversation when the PM dropped into the latter’s office when Ansari was chairman of Rajya Sabha, the ex-diplomat has written in his just released book.

Writing about his decision not to allow passage of bills in a din, Ansari said both UPA and NDA were unhappy but the BJP coalition felt “its majority in Lok Sabha gave it the ‘moral’ right to prevail over procedural impediments in Rajya Sabha. “An expression of this was conveyed to me authoritatively, and somewhat unusually, when one day PM Modi walked into my Rajya Sabha office unscheduled.”

“After I got over my surprise, I made the customary gestures of hospitality. He said ‘there are expectations of higher responsibilities for you but you are not helping me’. I said that my work in the Rajya Sabha, and outside, is public knowledge. ‘Why are bills not being passed in the din?’ he asked,” the former VP wrote.

Ansari shared an uneasy relationship with the Modi government, and the PM, in an unusual mention during the former VP’s farewell in Rajya Sabha, had suggested that he had remained constricted by his experience. “A big part of your working life was in West Asia... in the same atmosphere and debate... after retirement, it was minorities commission or AMU... that was your circumference”.

In his book ‘By Many A Happy Accident’, Ansari speaks of India’s descent in recent years into “populism, assisted by authoritarianism, nationalism and majoritarianism”. Recalling a meeting with Modi in 2007, Ansari writes : “A very early caller was Narendra Modi, then CM of Gujarat. ... I said I had questions in my mind that would have been asked had we met in my previous responsibility as Chairman of the NMC. I referred to the post-Godhra happenings in his state in 2002 and asked why he allowed it to happen. He said people look at only one aspect of the matter and pay no attention to the good work he has initiated, particularly for the education of Muslim girls. I sought its details and suggested that he should publicise it; ‘that does not suit me politically’ was the revealingly candid response.”

In the concluding chapter of his autobiography, he cautioned against succumbing to the temptation of the “enforced homogenisation being attempted in a social milieu traditionally enriched by its diversity between communities and within them”. He warns “this ideological potion, premised simplistically on the desirability of oneness of language, ethnicity, religion, territory and culture was administered successfully to a little over a third of the electorate”.

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