NEW DELHI, May 12 – In a rare acknowledgement, 92-year-old Rishang Keishing, Rajya Sabha member is going to be honoured on Sunday by President on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the first sitting of Parliament.
Keishing was a member of the first Lok Sabha and is the lone surviving leader, who continues to be a MP. The MP from Manipur is slated to initiate the discussion in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday, when it meets to celebrate the Golden Jubilee celebrations. Later, in the afternoon, Keishing along with two other surviving personalities would be honoured at a joint sitting of the Parliament, which would be attended by the President.
On Thursday, the North East MPs’ Forum honoured him at its meeting held at the Parliament premises. The Forum decided to hold a formal meeting to honour him. The meeting was attended by Minister of State for DoNER Paban Singh Ghatowar, MoS for Rural Development Agatha Sangma and MoS for Water Resources Vincent H Pala, general secretary of Forum Biren Baishya, Bhubaneswar Kalita, Kumar Deepak Das, Bijoya Chakravarty and Kabindra Purkayastha, among others.
Keishing, who is a senior Member of the Forum, spoke at length about his experience in Parliament and the State Assembly. He recalled his close association with Dr Biren Bhattacharyya.
The veteran politician was born in 1920, was first elected to Parliament as a Member of First Lok Sabha (1952-1957 and (1957-61).
“There is a gulf of difference in the Parliament then and now. The way things are going, discipline has been lost. It is not good for the nation,” Keishing told newsmen.
“When I joined the Lok Sabha, all eminent leaders from the freedom struggle were there,” he said, recalling the names of the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, first Lok Sabha Speaker GV Mavalankar, and others like Jan Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee, NC Chatterjee and Acharya Kripalani and others.
“When the States were being recognised, members could have shouted, as happens now. “The chair’s ruling was respected; the members were very clean hearted and all had love for each other.
Keishing, who completed his graduation in 1949 from St Paul’s Cathedral College in Kolkata, entered politics as a fire brand socialist with Jaiprakash Narayan’s Socialist Party and won his first Lok Sabha seat of Outer Manipur in 1952. He came back to the third Lok Sabha in 1962, once again from the Socialist Party.
When China attacked India in the same year, he decided to join the government’s side as his home State was at risk. “I felt at that time that I should be in government’s side, so I went to Pundit Nehru and asked him to take me in Congress, and he agreed,” recalled Keishing, adding that Nehru made him mediator for talks with the Nagas.
Keishing, known as an articulate statesman, also served as a key leader in the movement to get Manipur, which was a princely State, annexed with India. He was the Chief Minister of Manipur thrice, first for a brief period of less than a year from November 1980 to February 1981, and then after a brief President’s rule, from June 1981 to 1988. He was again Manipur Chief Minister from 1994-97. Later, he was elected Rajya Sabha member in 2002 for the first time, and in 2008 at the age of 88 for the second time.