About the Book
Elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1971, Somnath Chatterjee has served as a Member of Parliament in all successive Lok Sabhas till 2004, making him one of the longest- serving members of the Lok Sabha in the history of independent India. He became its Speaker in 2004 and remained so till 2009, when he retired from active political life.
In this candid, heartfelt memoir, Chatterjee looks back on his eventful four decades in the Indian Parliament, capturing all the highs and lows as a nation’s history was shaped, and revealing many behind-the- scenes stories for the first time. Among other things, Chatterjee discusses how he came to enter politics in the first place as an independent candidate supported by the CPI (M), the dark days of the Emergency, the landmark legislations enacted during his tenure as an MP, and the emergence of communal and coalition politics in the country.
He also provides a riveting account of one of the most tumultuous periods in the history of the Lok Sabha, 2004-09. He discusses why he chose not to resign as Speaker when his party, the CPI(M), withdrew support from the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government in 2008 over the Indo-US nuclear deal. He also gives a comprehensive account of the subsequent confidence vote that he presided over and how he was treated by the party for which he had worked all his life.
Keeping the Faith is not only a personal journey of one of India’s most respected parliamentarians, but also a gripping saga of a vibrant parliamentary democracy at work.
About the Author
Born in Tezpur, Assam, in 1929, Somnath Chatterjee was educated at the Presidency College in Calcutta, at Jesus College in Cambridge, and at the Middle Temple. Chatterjee began his career as a lawyer and joined active politics in 1971, when he was elected to the Lok Sabha. He continued to remain an MP till he stepped down from active politics in 2009.
In his long and illustrious career as an MP, Somnath Chatterjee adorned several parliamentary committees as chairman and as member. He served with distinction as Chairman, Committee on Subordinate Legislation and Standing Committee on Information Technology, Committee of Privileges, Committee, on Railways, and Committee on Communications. He has been a member of the Rules Committee, General Purposes Committee, Business Advisory Committee and the Ethics Committee, to name a few As a barrister and as a senior lawyer, he brought his legal acumen to the sphere of legislation, both in the House and its committees. In 1996, he was conferred the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award by the Indian Parliamentary Group.
In 2004, he was unanimously elected Speaker of the Lok Sabha. His conduct of the proceedings of the House evoked widespread appreciation from a cross section of citizens from India and overseas.
He now lives near Santiniketan.
The early years
Democracy, dictatorship and disorder
The congress after emergency: a mandate wasted
The divisive NDA years
In the chair: a roller-coaster ride
The expulsion: a great shock
Colleagues and comrades: rubbing shoulders with stalwarts
Appendix I: Speeches in Parliament
Motion of thanks on the president’s address, fifth Lok Sabha, Indira Gandhi as prime minister, 7 January 1976
Speech in response to the house of people (extension of duration) bill, fifth Lok Sabha, Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister, 4 february 1976
Speech on the President’s address to the joint session of Parliament, tenth Lok Sabha, P.V. Narasimha Rao as Prime Minsister, 4 march 1992
Speech on the motion of Confidence in the Council of ministers headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, eleventh Lok Sabha, 27 may 1996
Motion of thanks on the President’s address, eleventh Lok Sabha, H.D. Deve Gowda as Prime Minister, 25 February 1997
Speech on the motion of Confidence in the Council of Ministers headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, twelfth Lok Sabha, 27 march 1998
Extracts of speeches made on the riots in Gujarat, thirteenth Lok Sabha, Atal Bihari Vajpayee as prime minister, ii march 2002 and 23 july 2002
Speech on the representation of the people (amendment) bill, 2003, thirteenth Lok Sabha, Atal Bihari Vajpayee as Prime Minister, 6 august 2003
Speech in response to the felicitations on being elected speaker, fourteenth Lok Sabha, 4 June 2004 323 Valedictory speech, fourteenth Lok Sabha, 26 February 2009
Appendix II: Parliamentary Initiatives Taken during Somnath Chatterjee’s Tenure as Speaker
Appendix III: Interruptions and Disruptions in the Fourteenth Lok Sabha
Appendix IV: Messages Received by Somnath Chatterjee after His Decision Not to Resign as Speaker in the Wake of the Trust Motion in July 2008
Appendix V: Farewell Letter from the Speaker’s Team
Appendix VI: Statement issued by Somnath Chatterjee on 12 September 2009 Responding to Charges Made in People’s Democracy
About the Author
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