When Reddy's 'humongous' caused turmoil in Lok Sabha

Senior Congress leader S Jaipal Reddy. PTI file photo

Senior Congress leader S Jaipal Reddy, who breathed his last in Hyderabad on Sunday, had earned a reputation for repartee and oratory in Parliament.

Reddy, who was a spokesperson of the Janata Dal and the United Front government and later of the Congress, was also known for his penchant for puns and vocabulary before erudite politicians such as Shashi Tharoor and Derek O’Brien made their mark in Parliament.

However, Reddy’s use of adjectives while lashing out at the Vajpayee government virtually stalled the Lok Sabha for at least a day and is still cited as an example of how an innocuous words can lead to mayhem in a multilingual House.

Back in March 2002, Reddy’s description of the Vajpayee government’s favourable stand in the Supreme Court on allowing puja at the disputed site in Ayodhya as “humongous fraud on the nation” led to a furore.

BJP member Kharabela Swain from Balasore in Odisha and MDMK member Vaiko, who was then with the NDA, were furious and claimed that the word “humongous fraud” was unparliamentary and should be expunged.

He had used the same words at the Congress party briefing a day earlier but to a predominantly English-speaking audience.

“The Prime Minister had chosen to dump that alluring mask on the dung heap forever. Sir, now we can see our Prime Minister in his pristine Hindutva glory. Yesterday, in our considered view, the Prime Minister played humongous fraud on the nation,” Reddy said referring to Attorney General Soli Sorabjee’s submissions in the apex Court in the Ayodhya matter.

Senior Congress leaders Shivraj Patil, Priyaranjan Dasmunsi and even former Prime Minister Chandrashekhar tried to reason out with Reddy, who stuck his ground insisting that he had not said anything unparliamentary.

With NDA members unrelenting, Deputy Speaker P M Sayeed, who was in the chair, had first adjourned the proceedings till 2:00 p.m. and later for the day.

Outside Parliament, Reddy had joked that he first thought that the BJP members had taken the word “humongous” as a synonym for “dracula”.

Two days later, when the Lok Sabha took up a discussion on the Ayodhya issue, Reddy used the word “humongous” again.

“There is a humongous hiatus, a gigantic gap and a Gargantuan gulf between his public image and private reality,” Reddy said referring to Vajpayee.

Reddy had said Vajpayee’s public image was that of a “reasonable moderate” and a “flexible hardliner” but the actual reality was quite different.
 

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