NEW DELHI, Feb 2: Rishang Keishing, India’s oldest Parliamentarian and member of the first Lok Sabha in 1952, has decided to call it a day after seven decades in public life.
95-year-old Keishing, whose present term of Rajya Sabha ends in April, feels it is time to say goodbye to active politics as he has served enough in public life.
“I think, I have had enough of public life. I have to retire,” Keishing told in an interview.
Having seen various ups and downs in the country’s political scene since freedom struggle, he remembers the day when former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had asked him to join Congress in 1962.
Going down the memory lane, Keishing feels proud that he had the privilege to work with three generations of Nehru-Gandhi family beginning from Nehru till Sonia Gandhi.
A second-time member in Rajya Sabha, the veteran Parliamentarian, who was four times Chief Minister of troubled Manipur and had two tenures in Lok Sabha, says with pride, “I have worked with Pandit jee (Nehru), Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia jee.”
Having been elected on a Socialist Party ticket in 1952 to Lok Sabha, Keishing joined Congress in 1962 — a moment which he narrated clearly with all minute details.
“Pandit Nehru welcomed me with a warm heart. He was an outstanding leader.
Keishing, a former school teacher who hails from Naga- dominated Ukhrul district, plans to devote his retired life in farming, gardening and doing things which he said he could not do earlier due to busy life.
“Gardening is my favourite past time. I will also devote time in horticulture, specially medicinal plants,” he said.
Keishing survived a bid on his life during his tenure as chief minister in 1985 when his convoy was attacked by rebels. Four of his PSOs were killed and several injured in that attack.
He said even though he would retire from active public life, he would continue to remain engage in contributing for the welfare of the northeastern region, particularly his state Manipur.
“Communication network in northeast continues to be poor, primitive farming is still prevalent and total peace is yet to come. I will continue to contribute whatever I could,” he said.
Keishing was felicitated for being the member of first Lok Sabha by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in December 2003 on the occasion of the celebration of 200th Session of Rajya Sabha.
He was also felicitated as a serving Member of Parliament by the President, Prime Minister, Speaker of Lok Sabha and Chairman of Rajya Sabha at a function held on May 13, 2012, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Parliament. (PTI)