POLITICS

How Jayalalithaa Stunned Prime Minister Indira Gandhi With Her Maiden Speech In Rajya Sabha

She has set the bar.

06/12/2016 3:55 PM IST | Updated 06/12/2016 7:24 PM IST
Hindustan Times via Getty Images
(File Photo) AIADMK Leader Jayalalithaa with the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

In her more than three-decade career in politics, J Jayalalithaa often left many speechless with her speeches. On Tuesday night, after the 68-year-old Tamil Nadu chief minister passed away after battling for her life for over two months at Apollo Hospital in Chennai, the one thing that most politicians talked about was her eloquent speeches.

She has set the bar.

In 1984, Jayalalithaa arrived at the Parliament as a Rajya Sabha MP. Her seat number 185 was the same that C.N. Annadurai had occupied when he was an MP in 1963.

In her maiden speech, Jayalalithaa stole the show.

The speech was widely acclaimed for its clarity of diction and elegant prose.

As Vaasanthi notes in her book Jayalalithaa's Journey from Movie Star to Political Queen, 'Amma' managed to impress the Parliamentarians. Khushwant Singh, a fellow Rajya Sabha member, gushed that here was a beauty with brains. She left Prime Minister Indira Gandhi impressed too.

Deputy chariman of Rajya Sabha PJ Kurien also has vivid memories of Jaya's maiden speech.

"When J Jayalalithaa made her maiden speech in the Rajya Sabha, even the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi came to the House to hear her. The gallery was full and when she finished speaking, everyone was praising her articulation, content and language. It made news that day," he said.

So why was everyone stunned? Kurien said that perhaps it was because she came from the film world and no body thought she can give such a "serious speech".

Here's the full text of her speech:

"Mr. Deputy Chairman, I thank you for having given me this opportunity to express my views on the subject under discussion - the working of the Ministry of Energy.

Since the Hon. Member who spoke before took exactly thirty minutes and since this is my maiden speech, I would request you, Sir, to give me at least 15 minutes. At the outset, I wish to assure you, Sir, and all the Hon. Members here that I am fully aware of the noble traditions of this august assembly which, since its inception has been and continues to be a meeting place of some of the finest intellects in our country - of scholars, statesmen and towering personalities who have distinguished themselves in diverse fields.

Much comment has been made in the Press recently about the present infusion of "Young blood" into this House of Elders. I hasten to reassure you, Sir, and all senior Members here that they need harbour no apprehension on this score. I give you my solemn word that I shall never fail to uphold the dignity, prestige and decorum of the Rajya Sabha, and I shall do nothing to detract from the lustre that has been added to it by the luminous personalities who have graced these hallowed portals, who are no longer with us, and to whom I pay my respectful homage as a new entrant.

I deem it a great honour to stand here and speak on the floor of the very same Rajya Sabha where 22 years ago, in 1962 our great departed leader ANNA rose to make his forceful maiden speech which electrified the entire nation. While Anna electrified the whole country with his maiden speech, the theme of my maiden speech today is going to be dedicated mainly to the subject of Electricity.

My leader, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Dr. M.G.R., the founder leader of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam to which I have the honour to belong, has sent me here, together with my colleagues in the party, to echo the voice of the people of Tamil Nadu in this national forum. In particular, I have come here as the representative of the weaker sections of our society, the toiling masses, the crores of humble workers, farmers, poor agricultural labourers and women, to give oral manifestation to their feelings, aspirations and legitimate desires and make them known to the rest of the country.

There are many senior Members here, who are far more knowledgeable than I am, and vastly richer in experience. Some of them may disagree with some of the views I put forth. They may dispute a certain point I make, and by virtue of their debating skills they may even win the argument. But such a victory will be only a victory of words, and not triumph over truth.

I wish to emphasize the fact that the fundamental purpose of my speaking here in the Rajya Sabha is not to engage in wordy duels with other Members, but to state positive truths to the best of my knowledge and to draw the attention of the nation to certain crucial issues.

Tamil Nadu has been facing acute shortage of electricity for more than a decade. The State Government was forced to impose power cuts ranging from 25 per cent to 100 per cent intermittently from 1971-72 onwards to overcome the shortage. As a result of the repeated power cuts, the industrial and agricultural production in the State has been affected adversely and drastically.

Tamil Nadu has very meagre hydel potential. Most of the economical hydel potential has either already been exploited or is already on the anvil. The balance potential is either tied up in inter-state disputes or is too small and seasonal for economic exploitation. The only fossil fuel that is available in the State is lignite and efforts have already been undertaken to utilise this potential in an optimum manner.

Tamil Nadu has almost exhausted its hydel resources and has no coal resources at all. For setting up more coal based thermal stations, there are formidable constraints in that coal has to be hauled over long distances, either from Singareni in Andhra Pradesh or from Bengal or Bihar, rendering the cost too high and the availability of coal uncertain.

It was in this context — that the State Government pressed for the location of the Nuclear Plant in the State -- and the Government of India was kind enough to concede the demand by sanctioning the Madras Atomic Power Project with the generation capacity of 235 m.w. in 1967.

Later in the Fourth Five Year Plan, the second unit, also with a generation capacity of 235 m.w. was also sanctioned.

At that time, there was a clear understanding between the State and the Central Governments - that the entire output from Kalpakkam would be allocated solely to Tamil Nadu to meet the urgent pressing needs of the State.

In the year 1968, when the necessary lands were acquired for the Project, the Government of Tamil Nadu agreed to make available - free of cost - 2,500 acres of land required for the Project.

The lands were at that time valued at about Rs. 53 lakhs. This commitment was based on the confirmation given by the Madras Atomic Power Project authorities to the effect that in return, the entire energy output from the project would be sold to the Government of Tamil Nadu or its nominee, and the cost of energy of MAPP would be calculated excluding the value of land gifted by the State Government.

This amounts to an irrevocable, immutable contract which cannot be repudiated or rescinded by the efflux of time.

The Annual Power Survey Reports - the third published in 1965, the fourth published in 1966, the fifth published in 1968 and the sixth published in 1970 - assessed the full benefits from Kalpakkam for Tamil Nadu. In effect, the above-mentioned Annual Power Survey Reports clearly showed that the entire power generated from Kalpakkam was intended only to meet Tamil Nadu's needs and the forecasts of power requirement and availability were projected accordingly. It was only in late 1970 that the then Minister for Industries and Power - Dr. K.L. Rao, suggested that the power from the second unit might be shared equally by Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Even at that time, no questions were raised about the allotment of the entire power produced by the first unit to Tamil Nadu.

It was in these circumstances that on 3rd June, 1971, the Prime Minister, while answering a question in the Rajya Sabha - Q.No: 590 - raised by Mr. N.R. Munuswamy - gave a categorical assurance that the entire output of the first unit and half of the output of the 2nd unit of the MAPP would be made available to Tamil Nadu and the balance output of the second unit would be earmarked for the neighbouring States in the Southern Region.

The Tamil Nadu Government prepared a scheme for the Kadamparai Pumped Storage Project based solely on the assumption that the State would positively be able to avail of the entire power produced by the Kalpakkam Nuclear Plant.

In fact, this project was conceived at the instance of the C.E.A. - Central Electricity Authority - to enable the Kalpakkam Plant to operate at its full capacity all the 24 hours of the day. The C.E.A. when it conducted integrated studies to examine the operational feasibility of Kadamparai took into account the availability of the full output from Kalpakkam.

The Planning Commission gave its concurrence to the Kadamparai project in its letter No. 1-26(3)/2/72 - P&E dated 13th February, 1973, only after satisfying itself that adequate off-peak power would be available and in its forecasts, the entire output of Kalpakkam was taken into account.

If the entire power produced by Kalpakkam plant is not made available to Tamil Nadu, the expenditure on Kadamparai may become infructuous. With the severe financial constraints it is already burdened with, this unfruitful expenditure is something the State Government can ill afford.

The Planning Commission while clearing new projects for Tamil Nadu has all along been reckoning the full output from Kalpakkam for Tamil Nadu in its calculations. It must be noted that new projects are cleared only if the State is expected to face a deficit after taking into account the availability from Kalpakkam.

As late as 1977, the Planning Commission, while affirming clearance for the Tuticorin plant vide its letter No. 1-26(3) / 76- P&E dated the 14th July, 1977, issued the sanction only after satisfying itself that the State would be facing a deficit even with the full output computed to the Tamil Nadu account. The Tamil Nadu Government has been repeatedly pressing the Centre for the allotment of the entire power from Kalpakkam to Tamil Nadu.

The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in his D.O. letter dated 1st June, 1982, to the Prime Minister, once again emphatically stressed the need to allocate the entire output from Kalpakkam to Tamil Nadu. The Union Minister for Energy, in his letter dated 15th October, 1982 in reply, while accepting the commitment made earlier, stated that the power from Central Projects would have to be shared by all the States in the Region. The Government of Tamil Nadu cannot agree to this proposition.

Firm commitments made by the Centre at a point of time cannot become void simply because of the efflux of time.

The Energy Minister stated that the new schemes proposed for Tamil Nadu would be cleared quickly. In this context, it is necessary to accentuate the fact that in the Sixth Five Year Plan the share of Tamil Nadu is 630 m.w. which is dismally low as compared to 19666 m.w. for all India. The primary reason is that adequate schemes were not sanctioned for Tamil Nadu. Between 1967, when the Kalpakkam nuclear plant was sanctioned and now, Tamil Nadu sent 27 schemes for sanction to the Centre but only 11 schemes were cleared by the Planning Commission and that too after considerable delay.

The main reasons for this state of attairs are that the hydro-electric schemes proposed by the State are small, seasonal and disproportionately costly as compared to schemes in the other parts of the Southern Region and coal supplies could not be linked. Sanction for the Mettur Thermal Project was delayed for more than six years simply because coal linkage could not be established. Because of the aforementioned constraints, all the Governments that were in power in the State have been pressing for the establishment of a second nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu. However, no favourable decision has yet been taken by the Centre in this regard.

Tamil Nadu continues to face a severe deficit and it must be emphasized that the State is still expected to face a deficit even after taking into account all the already sanctioned schemes and the share from Central projects like Ramagundam, the Neyveli 2nd Mine cut etc. The State has sent two proposals, one for the North Madras Station with an estimated generation capacity of 1,050 m.w., and another proposal for extension of the Tuticorin Thermal Station, with an estimated generation capacity of 420 m.w. as early as in 1981. Clearance for these schemes is still pending because coal linkage could not be established.

These facts which I have stated, clearly articulate the exigent need to allocate the entire power output from the first unit of Kalpakkam to the Government of Tamil Nadu.

I wish to impress upon the Centre that the State Government is pressing for the allocation of the entire power from Kalpakkam, not for the sole reason that the Centre had made a commitment, and the State insists upon its fulfillment as a mere technical formality, but because the situation is genuinely of such import and seriousness, that the interests of the State would be affected adversely, indeed grievously, if the full output is not made available to Tamil Nadu.

But the Union Minister for Energy, in his letter dated the 31st March, 1984, has informed the Government of Tamil Nadu that the power from the Central projects would not be firmly allocated to one State or States, but that the Centre would decide the distribution of power from time to time taking into consideration the respective power positions in different States in a Region.

The Union Minister for Energy has also indicated that the Central power stations can only supplement the efforts of State Governments. According to the principles evolved by the Government of India in 1978, the power generated from the Central sector power stations to be constructed by the National Thermal Power corporation, N.T.P.C. is proposed to be allocated between the various States in a Region on the basis of past energy consumption and quantum of Central assistance, giving equal weightage to these two factors and after providing for an additional 10 per cent allocation to the home State and keeping 15 per cent unallocated with the Centre for distribution subsequently on the basis of actual deficits at any point of time. This formula is irrational as it reduced the allocation of power to deficit States which can absorb more power, and allots more power to power surplus States which do not need the allocation.

The formula has no relevance at all to the actual power needs of each State and allocates power to all States of the Region irrespective of their deficits or surpluses.

This will lead to an anomalous situation wherein a deficit State will continue to be deficit even though the Region may be surplus. The deficit States will have to continue to buy power from the surplus States.

The deficit States will have to continue to buy power from the surplus States whose surplus keeps on increasing because of this illogical formula. The logical, acceptable principle that should be adopted would be to allocate the power of the Central Sector power stations in direct proportion to the respective deficit of each individual State as assessed by the Annual Power surveys conducted by the Government of India. Tamil Nadu has the largest deficit among the Southern States and is forced to buy power every year from the surplus States of the Region at exorbitant rates.

The inappropriate formula already mentioned is now sought to be applied to the second power station being constructed by the Neyveli Lignite Corporation. Out of 630 Megawatts to be produced by the Second Unit, it was intimated in 1980, that only 176 m.w.s. would be allocated to Tamil Nadu. It is significant to point out in this context that before planning the second unit of Neyveli, the Government of India had asked for, and obtained in 1973, a guarantee from Tamil Nadu that the entire power produced would definitely be absorbed by Tamil Nadu.

To put it in a nutshell, the project was finalised only on the basis of this firm assurance and categoric commitment confirmed by the Government of Tamil Nadu. The expectation that the entire power of the second unit of the Neyveli Lignite Corporation would be allotted to Tamil Nadu has been the foundation on which the State has drafted its power planning throughout.

Given these circumstances, if the entire power from the Neyveli Lignite corporation is not allotted to Tamil Nadu the power scarcity in the State will prove disastrous to its interests.

A resolution was moved in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly on 7th March, 1984, and in the Legislative Council on 8th march, 1984, pressing for the allocation of the entire power output from Kalpakkam and Neyveli to Tamil Nadu.

In conclusion, I quote from our great departed leader Anna's speech in the Rajya Sabha in December 1963 :

"The working of the federal structure all these years has created a sense of frustration in the minds of the States. The States are fast becoming dole-getting Corporations. They feel that they are relegated to the back-ground and there is the very natural instinct in them that they should be given more power."

Anna's words hold good even today - 21 years later. I reiterate, Tamil Nadu genuinely feels it should be given more power in 2 contexts. Firstly, more power in the general sense that Anna meant, i.e., more powers for the States. And secondly, in the immediate specific sense that Tamil Nadu feels it should be given more power in the form of Electricity from Kalpakkam and Neyveli.

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