What are your priorities as the chairman of the Legislative Council?
I took over as the chairman of the Upper House on August 8. My first and foremost priority is to ensure that the House functions smoothly and peacefully. Decorum and discipline have to be maintained inside the House.
I will try to re-start the publication of the Legislative Council's magazine, Sakshya, and the lecture series inaugurated by the President on March 22, 2011, as part of the centenary year celebrations of the Bihar Legislative Council. As part of the series, we are organising centenary lectures that would continue further. The first lecture was delivered by former President APJ Abdul Kalam.
Do you think that stalling of Parliament is a way out to realise one’s demands? What is your take or what else you would suggest?
India is a democratic country and everybody and all political parties have the right to express their respective views in an effective manner, especially when an issue is related to corruption. I don’t think that stalling Parliament is wrong if a party is raising an issue in the national interest. It is the democratic right of the parties to get their voices heard in an effective manner. As a people’s representative, it is his or her duty and right to express opposition if the government is not ready to listen to the grievances.
Don’t you think that such precedent (of stalling Parliament) would send wrong message?
Such instances of indecent behaviour should not be allowed to take place in the Assemblies that are meant for debates, discussions and making legislations. But we have never witnessed such ugly incident in our House. If a deadlock persists on an issue, the matter is resolved through dialogue.
Many people have suggested that there should be a fixed tenure of the Assembly like the Council. What’s your take?
There should not be a fixed tenure of the Lok Sabha or state Assemblies on the lines of the Upper House that can, as per constitutional provisions, never be dissolved. I think that giving a fixed tenure to the Lower House would create a problem where the pressures of a Parliamentary democratic set-up would cease to exist. The decision whether or not elections should be held depend on time and situation and also the government's policies.
Do you think that the level of Upper House has gone down?
No, I don’t think that the level of Upper House has gone down due to some members’ behaviour. I think that the level of debate and discussion has still been maintained in the Upper House, as experienced people — who have devoted a whole lot of time of their life to people — get elected to the House. They have not gained their experience in any university. They have learnt it from their experience in their respective fields by interacting with people.
So you don’t agree with the argument that tainted people have entered the House?
I don’t think that any tainted person has been elected to the Council. In my view, there is nothing wrong if anyone considered tainted gets elected, as the people are supreme in a democratic set-up.
How do you feel when somebody points out that people have started talking about the relevance of Rajya Sabha and Vidhan Parishad (Upper House in the state)?
There should be a debate one whether or not these institutions are relevant. There is nothing wrong in having a full-fledged debate. I am also open to ideas as how to strengthen the House and its functioning.
So you are not in favour of scrapping the Upper House?
The Council should not be scrapped, as it has its relevance. This is the House of serious thinking people. States like Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Bengal have recommended creation of provisions to set up Upper House. When so many states want such councils, there is no question of scrapping the House.
About Awadesh Narayan Singh
Awadesh Narayan Singh was born on June 22, 1948, at Kothua village under Piro block of erstwhile Shahabad district (now Bhojpur district). He was born in a simple farmer family to late Keshav Prasad Singh and Gulabjhari Devi. Singh has four sons and a daughter. He did his higher secondary from Surajpura Higher Secondary School in Bhojpur in 1965. He got admitted to BN College, where he studied for one year before joining Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi.
Singh completed his engineering in 1970 in metallurgy. Later, he completed a diploma in marketing management from National Productivity Council, New Delhi. Singh worked as an engineer and started Ashiana Housing Cooperative Society that constructed several structures.
Singh, who is a four-time MLC, entered the Legislative Council as its member in March 1993 from South Chhotanagpur (graduate) constituency in undivided Bihar. He won in 1999 from the same constituency. But when the state was divided in 2000, he changed his constituency and won twice (2005 and 2011) from Gaya (graduate) constituency. Singh has been the BJP’s chief whip of BJP in the Upper House. He served as labour resources minister from April 2008 to November 2010 in the Nitish Kumar government. He was unanimously elected as the chairman of the Legislative Council.
What would you have been if not a politician?
An engineer. I worked as an engineer for a long time before joining politics.