There was no reason to doubt the sincerity of the Home Minister whom the Core Group of CERI met the other day. Though short, he gave a patient hearing to the representation on PR system. As we thought it was over, Wg. Cdr. Amit Kumar Kaushik, Officer on Special Duty to Home Minister, called me up and arranged a 45-minute-long discussion at the North Block. That was a ‘wow’ for CERI.
The Comrades have always been very supportive of CERI. Communist Party of India (CPI) has even officially decided to work together for PR system in India. But it was unusual of a comrade MP from Orissa, Mr. Bibhu Prasad Tarai to invite the entire Core Group for a lunch at his home. That he himself cooked food for the entire gang was something out of the world. Camaraderie has no limits. The Left is often right.
Not to be outdone was the Congress MP Mr. Haroon who provided a sumptuous lunch for Ansari and me and made arrangement for a possible meeting with Madam Sonia Gandhi. The Core Group missed it by a whisker. Time was fixed. As the Group waited with bated breath came the news of Mulayam Singh Yadav walking out and we saw him doing it. Madam had to call for a crisis management meeting and immediately after that rush to Gujarat. Our appointment was shifted to Monday. But we said that we would meet her in the Budget session of the Parliament.
The meeting with Mr Oscar Fernandes late in the evening was also memorable. He listened carefully to what we had to say and welcomed the CERI delegation with great respect. And the meeting with Mr. Porika Balram Naik, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment brought out also long discussion. Not knowing much English he left the task of discussion with Shivamurthy, former minister from Karnataka. The man knows his substance well and it was a duet of sorts between him and me. Finally he agreed on the urgent need for ushering in PR system. Another ‘wow’ from CERI to Mr Anand, PA to Minister Balram! When we thanked him, he returned it saying that he was a part of CERI.
The fortification of Congress response came as a flood of cooperation from a much-respected Mr. Natchiappan MP from Tamil Nadu. He is an opinion maker in Congress and that is an advantage for CERI. Long discussion with the entire Core Group of CERI showed the seriousness of purpose he had. First week of March 2013 will see a conference of MPs in Delhi to be organized by him. CERI left him with hearts full of happiness.
The other Madam in the Parliament, Leader of the Opposition Madam Sushma Swaraj was more forthcoming. This was the second time that she met a delegation from CERI. Very well organized indeed! Time given, appointment honoured, at exact time! She is a woman of some substance. The promise to CERI that BJP would have a clause on PR system in its next manifesto clearly manifested a new air in politics. Soon there may be competitions among parties to be the first ones to take up Proportional Representation in India. Or is it a far- fetched imagination of CERI? Time will definitely give its answer soon.
‘Yes, yes, I know you met Madam Sushma yesterday. Do you have anything more to tell me?’ The question from BJP’s spokesperson Prakash Javadekar was a clear indication that CERI and PR systems have become issues of serious discussion in BJP. ‘Exhilarating’ would be a gross understatement of the meeting CERI had with Mr. Babulal Marandi, the former Chief Minister of Jharkhand, presently the leader of Jharkhand Vikas Morcha and Member of Parliament. Long discussion from the heart! A true tribal leader! Fully subscribed to Proportional Electoral System.
CERI could not help thinking whether it will be the Comrades, the Congress or BJP that will bring PR system to India. All the three agreeing on this will be an ideal thing to happen. But then politics… Let India keep its fingers crossed.
No sensationalism! No protest! No fasting! No Jantar Mantar! Yes we were at Jantar Mantar to see all full throttled shouting to an audience of hardly 50 people. Shouting in different directions one vying with the other. A ceremony of sorts! People in need of taking out their compulsive energy acquired from unknown past, unloading it into thin air. Governments are clever. They know how to take the sheen out of the angry protestor. We did not go there to listen to the loud thunder of empty pots. The meeting at the office of the Janata Dal (U) in the next compound was a memorable one for CERI Core Group.
"It was such an enlightening discussion we had. I did not know that there is so much of new things," Arun Srivatsava of JD (U), a humble human being said. “Socialist Parties like yours have a bounden duty to support this cause of Proportional Representation in India,” I asserted. The Core Group negotiated for a meeting of the party workers and bigwigs including Mr. Sharad Yadav. Tentative dates fixed already.
Can we leave out one Yadav for another? said Mr. Shailendra Kumar, former minister in UP and present MP, whose serious discussion on the issue of PR system gladdened the hearts of all. The promise to fix up an appointment with Mr. Akhilesh Yadav, the CM of UP was a boon from this very serious MP. And the next day we bumped into Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav. His PA called up in the evening and a few times subsequently asking for more copies of the Policy Document of CERI. These two meetings will take place. Sharad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad Yadav! Will CERI dare to bring the three Yadavs together on one platform of Proportional Electoral System? If that happens it will be a dream come true for India. Needless to say that CERI had a very positive response from the Lalu camp through Rajesh Kumar Mahnji and Hari Mahnji.
Among all these meetings, CERI had to do some tidying up with independent MPs, Party MPs, former ministers and IAS officers. One IAS officer even asserted, “I am with you. I am a team member of CERI”.
Lest we forgot our friends the CERI Team also had a dinner meeting with Anita Bharati and her husband Rajeev Singh for the Hindi translation and editing of the Policy Document and subsequently also of my book on Electoral Systems to be published soon by Green Ink Publishers.
Small team of unknown people! Will they do some wonders for India? Time will have its answer. 24 meetings in four days says its own story of the hectic working style of CERI’s Core Group. I used to say repeatedly to this team: “If this team does not win which team will?” We hope the victory will be that of the people of India for democracy, for inclusion, for effective governance, for sharing of power and for prosperity of all future generations.