MP Manoj Jha to TDM on his emotive speech, his take on the caste-based census, COVID mismanagement and denial, Pegasus and more.

source: RSTV

Professor Manoj Kumar Jha is a Rajya Sabha MP and the Intellectual face of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). He is one of the most recognised faces in India’s polity who represents his party on national TV debates. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha MP in March 2018. 

Professor Jha stupefied the nation with the eloquent and emotive speech he delivered on the pandemic in Parliament. It was amplified by users on social media and widely hailed by people.

Manoj Jha hails from Saharsa in Bihar. He is a professor of Social Work and has an illustrious academic carrier. He is now an active politician who unequivocally voice his opinion in and outside Parliament. His seminal works on economics, governance and social work are well known. His fact laced speeches have flattened the government. 

‘The Democratic Mirror’ was fortunate to have a succinct conversation with Professor Manoj Jha at his official residence in New Delhi.  

When asked has the pain of people moved the government, in context to the viral speech, Professor Manoj Jha hoped, it would indeed move the dispensation. He said he was not speaking on behalf of a party nor he was speaking for himself. It was an expression of helplessness and despair which the country witnessed for two months and those two months will remain etched in the bitter memory of the nation. Professor Jha said, his speech was in that context. It touched everyone alike because it was the reflection on people’s plight, miseries, abandonment and regrets; million of Indians failed to give a dignified life and cremation to their loved ones.    

Professor Jha also revealed how some members of the ruling party including senior ministers of the government confessed to having gotten emotive post the speech. This is somewhat a beginning to make the government feel as it was not Manoj Jha or RJD who expressed the pain, it was the manifestation of millions of Indians. 

The recently concluded Monsoon session of the Parliament passed 19 bills without deliberations and how it would impact the parliamentary democracy. Professor Manoj Jha elucidated, the actual bills passed by the government amounted to around 30.

The onus remains on the government to synergise the deliberation and legislation but Ministers got bills passed within 7 minutes of its introduction contrary to the concept of the parliamentary democracy. When a bill is subject to debate, it shortcoming are highlighted thereafter fixing it and enhancing its subjective but bills are passed dodging the democratic discourse. 

Professor Jha is of the opinion that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is museumising Parliamentary principles.  

Although, PM Modi is building a new Parliament building while eroding its essence. It should be a matter of concern for everyone and not only political parties in India as to why the Parliament is obstructed from questioning the government. 

There have been allegations and counter-allegations from the government and the opposition, respectively, over the pandemonium in the Parliament. Has the opposition found any remedy to this? Professor Manoj Jha delineated that, unlike elections, the yardstick differs in the Parliament wherein there are only opposition and the government. Throughout the history of the Parliament, the government remained liable for its smooth functioning and had taken extra steps for it. 

The present government should shed its attitude of my way of highway owning to arithmetics in Lok Sabha and ability, to sum up in the Rajya Sabha if it intends to run the Parliament. It also set aside its arrogance and ego to end the logjam.  

As stated, the logjam was due to COVID mismanagement by the centre and the government’s blatant denial of deaths caused by oxygen shortage. Were hundreds of thousands of people crying for oxygen lying? The government itself was scrambling to ferry oxygen, yet it denied it.  

Farmers across the country are sitting for straight nine months against the three black laws, but the government is unperturbed, unemployment is the highest in 50 years, yet the government is complacent, and the worst is when the government hoodwinks the same middle class that propped them. 

Why should not the Pegasus snooping scandal, which has stirred the hornet’s nest the world over and raised a question on India’s national security, be subjected to debate? People across the spectrum were snooped upon from judiciary to politician to journalist and what is more intriguing is that PM Modi’s cabinet Ministers were also on the list of the potential targets. 

Governments of other nations have launched an investigation into it whereas here in India, it is brushed under the carpet. It is incumbent upon the movement to maintain the dignity of the house by holding a transparent deliberation on the issue whereby public representatives across the party lines can put forth their questions and the same is taken into consideration.   

Since Pegasus is a question of national security, the Ministry of Defence has denied having any transaction with the NSO group in the Parliament. Was there any possibility of unearthing the truth? To this, Professor Manoj Jha outlined IT Minister, who was also the target of the snooping, put out a statement in the house followed by the Ministry of Defence, who for the time being does not have any association with the NSO Group. But, its association in the past or the probability in the future cannot be ruled out.   

The Ministry of Home Affairs is yet to come out with a statement on it. NSO Group deals only with the government of a State. Even fragile democracies have agreed to constitute an inquiry into it ironically India being the largest democracy is bypassing it. Will it expose something sinister to embarrass the Indian government? Such an alibi has no place in a democracy. 

Pegasus is not a conventional thing, it can intrude into our bedroom and eavesdrop on our private conversation. It is also nothing more than brutalisation of autonomy and constitutional entity.  

Professor Jha also delved into the issue of the caste-based census, a point which his party leader Tejasvi Yadav has been clamouring about and written a letter to the Prime Minister in this regard. The caste-based census was broached in the Parliament way back in 2011 by RJD supremo Lalu Yadav, Sharad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav and members of DMK for inclusive development. The census was meant to know the status of the largest category of the population in India. After then, data was incorporated until the present government was elected, in 2014. Post-2014, when asked, the government said to have found the data corrupt.

It is not intrinsic to a political party but encompasses those who seek to bring development to fruition. Bihar assembly, in unison, has passed the resolution seeking a caste-based census. Tejashvi Yadav is right when he equated the insult to CM Nitish Kumar with the soul of Bihar.  

When questioned about the possibility of conflicts if the government consent to the caste-based census and its repercussion on reservations, Professor Jha propounded to increase the reservation cap fixed by the Supreme Court of India as economically weaker sections (EWS) quota has already been introduced by the government. 

Mandal Commission was based on the census of 1931, and representation in Universities, Secretariats, Ministries are upsetting. 

PM Narendra Modi’s ‘Sabka Sath Sabka Vikash, Sabka Viswash’ is hallucinatory unless a concrete step is taken towards this. 

Watch TDM’s full conservation.

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