Sunday, October 3, 2010

Speaker gets his tongue back

Somnath Chatterjee had once lamented that after becoming Speaker he hardly spoke in Parliament: “Now I only use two sentences: ‘Please go back to your seat’ and ‘Please sit down!’”. If you have watched Lok Sabha proceedings, you would understand his exasperation. But like a good headmaster facing unruly schoolkids, Chatterjee spiritedly persisted in his attempts at managing rowdy parliamentarians. Now the distinguished advocate and parliamentarian once famed for his perceptive speeches has got his tongue back and has given us a personal account of his times in his autobiography, Keeping the Faith.

Contaminated by media hype, I expected it to be a tell-all book about his expulsion from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which he had served diligently for four decades. Happily, the book is not about that. He has one chapter on it, 18 pages in an almost 400-page book. Even more happily, that chapter does not disappoint.

This is Chatterjee’s story of the politics of his times. It starts with his father N.C. Chatterjee’s college days, curves through his success as a lawyer and parliamentarian, sweeps through Somnath Chatterjee’s own childhood and youth, his training at the Bar in Cambridge, England, and his joining politics. We get glimpses of his family life in the brief, matter-of-fact way that comrades admit to having families.

Full report here Deccan Chronicle

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