By BISHESHWAR MISHRA / AMN /NEW DELHI
Rajya Sabha today bid farewell to 59 retiring members. Giving a halt to political acrimony, all members cooperated with Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu in running the House for farewell speeches smoothly. Subtle political jibes however prevailed over the traditional farewell speeches.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was present in the house spoke briefly, assuring the outgoing members that the doors of the Parliament and his office (Prime Minister’s Office) was always open to them to come and share their views.
He however lamented that due to repeated disruptions by the opposition members many important legislations could not be passed. “It was unfortunate that they (retiring MPs) didn’t get a chance to pass important legislations in their final session, but may look back at their tenure happily given the passing of landmark bills like the Triple Talaq bill,” Modi said.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad stressed that it was unfair to accuse the Opposition MPs of fighting and disrupting Parliament. He said they aren’t doing it for selfish needs. “The MPs have been sent to Parliament to represent the needs of the people. People back in their constituencies are agitating — be it for their special status, or for their water.
The parliamentarians are looking after the needs of their poor people, the farmers, the labourers. The MPs are fighting on their behalf. If the people get what they want, it’s not the MPs who stand to benefit,” Azad said.
Azad took a jibe at retiring MP Naresh Agarwal, who had recently defected from Samajwadi Party to the BJP. He first praised him for his effective interventions and contributions in the Parliament and then took a dig at him saying “Agarwal would rise from here and set there, but also rise from there and set here. We will miss him.”
Among those retiring include some very senior members like the present deputy chairman of the House P J Kurean and former deputy chairman Rahman Khan. Both leaders expressed their concern over falling standard of the upper house debates. Kurean appealed to opposition members that “slogan shouting did not help anyone. Instead you should grill the ministers.” He also appealed to the government “to be more responsive to the demands of the opposition members.”
Rahman Khan felt one of the reasons proper discussions were not taking place because “the Opposition felt they were not getting the opportunity to express their views.” He suggested there was a need to review the rules of the Rajya Sabha to ensure that there were no disruptions and the House. He suggested more use of the Committee system of the House to scrutinize all bills. To this chairman Venkaiah Naidu said he had already moved in that direction.
Leader of the House Arun Jaitley said that retirement of members is a nostalegic moment. He said of the two film celebrities at least one was returning (Jaya Bachhan) but “I am happy all the lawyers are returning back,” he added amidst laughters. To this chairman Naidu added light-heartedly “there must be some secret” leading to more laughters.
Only two bills have been passed in the Budget Session of Parliament while 18 days have been washed out, as Opposition parties agitated over a number of issues and even moved a no-confidence motion against the Narendra Modi government.