At last, they have decided to go up the Hills! Of course
they have offered no explanation to the public for this
exodus. Need they? They happen to be the chosen, and
seem to know, how best to hoodwink the voters. Hence
they have announced to the public that they would be
holding a session at Ootty in the month of April. Wise
men, indeed, and those millions, who have no other weapon
except a 'scrap of paper' given once in five years,
stand dumb-founded. For, they have heard, the Congress
leaders, thunder a thousand times, against this 'exodus'.
They have heard, similes and metaphors, gushing forth
from the lips of those patriots. They thought, that
those words, came straight from the hearts.
None who had the opportunity of hearing Hon'ble C.Subramaniam
on the floor of the House, has seen his gait and pontifical
air, would have thought that the 'exodus' would ever
come about at all. The Leader of the House, assured
the members, that unless all parties agreed the government
would not take up this question of exodus. In fact,
the Minister, even requested the member from the Nilgiris,
not to bring in this question before the House, hereafter.
The Hon'ble C.Subramaniam almost sealed off that proposal.
So, even the members of the Legislature were taken by
surprise, when the announcement came from the chair,
that the Business Advisory Committee decided that the
House should meet at Ootty.
Apart from other points, the party in power should explain
to the people, and more especially members of the legislature,
why they have gone back, why they have thought it fair
and fit to indulge in an act almost amounting to gross
betrayal. After making a statement on the floor of the
House, the party in power, placing its reliance on the
brute majority at its command, acts in a contrary way,
flouting the moral standard expected of it. What has
become of that assurance? Why should the Leader of the
House, don on the hero's garb, and issue an assurance,
that unless all parties agree, he is not going to consider
the exodus at all, and then, sneak in to announce, that
in spite of the dissent from the D.M.K., they are going
up the Hills?
Parliamentary democracy rests upon such fine principles
as, assurances, joint decisions, and the like. It is
not enough to wield the majority—there should be as
far as possible, common agreement. When the Leader of
the House wants and even gets common consent from all
parties, on such intricate problems as the language
question, student problem and the like, why should he
think it politic to rush on to the Hills, brushing aside
objections from the D.M.K.? Ootty, they say, is the
Queen of the Hills—but that does not mean, that the
Leader of the House should succumb to its cooing, deserting
democratic decency. What are the special reasons, that
he could put forward for taking such a course? Except,
perhaps, the backing of numbers, the Minister has got
nothing else in his armory. “What could the D.M.K.,
do!—composed, as it happens to be, of only fifteen members!
We have a hundred and fifty! And we have the unique
comradeship of the Communists!! The D.M.K., would fret
and foam. The people too may be a bit irritated—but
there at Ootty, the season is charming, birds with their
multi-coloured plumage, and flowers to match them, the
lovely lawns, why should we not get the Holiday spirit,
—should we stay and sweat, when the call comes from
the Hills! The D.M.K., refuses to be floored by all
arts of persuasion and cajolery. But on that account,
we should not give up the pleasure of holding our 'durbar'
at ootty, during the season!”—The Leader of the House
seems to have thought in this vein. But what amazes
one, is not this decision alone, but the different 'poses'
that the Leader put forth from time to time.
He was all along thinking, that a sweet smile, a soft
word, just a pat on the back, would be enough, to cajole
the D.M.K.! But, when the D.M.K., refused to become
a party to this, the Leader put forth a different pose,
by saying that he is not at all interested in this exodus.
Failing in all his subtleties, the Leader of the House,
had to eat his own words, by taking a sudden decision
to hold the sessions at Ootty.
Many would have forgotten, the history behind this itch.
It is not a sudden thought. The Congress party, during
those days, when it was in the wilderness, condemned
the exodus. But as soon as it assumed power, the itch
started. And the Congress party made many attempts to
go up the Hills.
As early as January 1956, the proposal was brought forth
before the House, discussed and given up. The present
Leader of the House, was then too adorning the same
place, and when member after member began attacking
the proposal, he gave up the attempt at last, and put
forth a heroic pose, by saying that his party was not
interested in the exodus, unless all parties agreed.
In fact, a piquant situation arose, in 1956.
Unlike now, all parties agreed, at the Business Advisory
Committee to hold the sessions at Ootty. But as soon
as a resolution to that effect was placed before the
House, by Sir, P.T.Rajan, members from all parties began
bombarding. Mr. Subramaniam, confident as now, about
his arts in persuasion and argument, attempted to soften
out the situation. And failing in that, he threw up
his hands, and threw away the proposal, and exclaimed,
"Sir, I would like to make a statement on behalf
of the government. When the matter came up for consideration
before the Business Advisory Committee, the Committee
as a matter of fact, felt that even without reference
to the Assembly the government could take a decision,
and there was unaimity of opinion among all parties
including even the Communist party. I want to state
that here. Even then I knew that it was likely to be
made political capital of. That is why I said the government
were not prepared to take up that responsibility. I
suggested that there should be a resolution and if that
was accepted by all the parties on the floor of the
assembly the government could take up the responsibility."
The question is two-fold. Why should the Communist party,
think it fit to support this move for exodus now, having
opposed it in 1956? And, why should the Leader of the
House, think it advisable now, to give up his attitude
of caution, and democratic decency, when in 1956 he
was not prepared to take up the responsibility unless
there was unanimity?
In fact, after finding the House in no mood to support
this move, Mr.Subramaniam said,
"In view of the fact that there is no unanimity
and the political parties are opposing this move, the
government also are against the resolution."
Now too, there is no unanimity—the D.M.K., refuses to
be a party to this gross vulgarity of an exodus. At
least in 1956, the Leader of the House, found unanimity
in the Business Advisory Committee—now, the D.M.K.,
expressed its dissent at the Committee itself. And yet,
Mr. Subramaniam announces, his decision. Why? Why! Because,
he feels he is strong enough, to defy any code! Because,
he feels, that the public would not raise their little
finger as a protest against this unjustifiable onslaught
on democratic etiquette. What answer has the public
to offer to this affront—for, it is nothing short of
an affront. It is not at all, an issue as between the
Congress and the D.M.K. The D.M.K., has done its duty,
by stoutly opposing the move, and the Congress party
has now taken the final decision even without moving
a formal resolution in the House. It is now up to people,
be they of any political persuasion, to speak out.
There was, in 1956 a spirited speech, from a Congress
member on the floor of the assembly, against this move.
And it is in the hope, that a perusal of that speech,
would be of much help to those who are awe-stricken
by the bigness of the party, that the speech is reproduced.
Here it is, and the speaker is, Mr. A.M.Rathnaswamy.
“Mr. Speaker, I am sorry I am constrained to oppose
the resolution so ably moved by Hon. Member Mr.P.T.Rajan.
We should take into consideration the context of the
present situation when this resolution is moved in this
House. We should also take into consideration the feelings
of the people outside this House and we must also consider
what amount of backing there will be for this kind of
resolution. Ever since the Congress took up the reins
of administration in this country, it began to shake
off all the vestiges of imperialism. The popular Congress
Ministry when it took up the reins of administrative
responsibility in this State in 1937 under the able
leadership of Mr. C.Rajagopalachariar, this question
of holding session of the Legislature in Ootty was considered
and that Ministry rightly decided that the session could
very well be held in Madras and there was absolutely
no need to hold it in Ootty.
“Sir, I doubt very much the statement made by the Hon.
Mover of the resolution when he said that the expenditure
would be only Rs.50,000. Sir, when we feel like having
a session in Ootty, the whole Capital should move and
you can very well imagine the implication, financial
and otherwise, of such a move. The whole Secretariat
has got to move and many of the paraphernalia have got
to be observed. There is already a feeling in this country
that there is a good deal of red-rapism still continuing.
We can imagine what amount of delay in the disposal
of papers there will be if the session has to be held
in Ootty. I do not know whether the Hon. Mover of the
resolution feels that the Secretariat has also got to
be moved to Ootty or not. In case it was necessary,
it will entail a good deal of expenditure If, however,
the Secretariat had to function in Madras and the session
had to be held in ootty, I am afraid the delay in the
disposal of papers will be enormous. What amount of
difficulties and inconvenience would be experienced
by the people? I leave it to the imagination of the
Hon. Mover and also the Government. I am afraid that
this is not a popular move. After all, our Congress
Ministries both in the various States and in the Centre
are endeavouring their very best to build up a true
democracy in this country. Democracy was defined by
no less a person than Abraham Lincoln that it is a Government
of the people by the people and for the people. Therefore,
we have got to take sufficient caution and care in this
kind of move before any decision could be arrived at
on this question. It was all right for the Europeans
to have the session in Ootty so far as this State was
concerned and in Simla so far as the Central Government
was concerned. Those people came from a very cold country
and so wanted to have some relaxation and rest in this
hot country. But I wonder how there can be any analogy
between we Indians and those Europeans. After all, we
are born and bred up in a hot place, I would only like
to tell the Hon. Mover of the resolution that after
all we are trying to build up a Government based on
democratic lines and are trying to create a socialistic
pattern of society in this country with the Gandhian
background. So, I appeal to him to understand the implications
of his move. We are struggling very hard to see that
the Second Five Year Plan which is going to be taken
up by our Government is implemented successfully. Even
assuming that the extra expenditure will be to the tune
of Rs. 50,000. I would like to point out that that sum
is not a small one. Nowadays, every pie counts. There
is already a feeling in a minds of the people that the
tax burden is very great. Considering the various points
and the implications of his move, I urge upon the Hon.
Mover of the resolution to withdraw it. Thank you, Sir.”
To be honest and frank, one has to say that this ‘Hill
going’ is nothing but a costly pastime. The D.M.K.,
has spurned the offer from the Congress, and has refused
to become partners in the pastime. The Communists have
agreed to become partners in the pastime. We await the
verdict of the people.