Members of Parliament welcomed the new Rajya Sabha Chairman, M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday. Several MPs including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley and the Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House Ghulam Nabi Azad, praised the Chairman and lauded his knowledge of the functioning of Parliament.
MPs also expressed confidence that as an experienced leader, Naidu will conduct the functioning of the House in a smooth manner and in the right spirit, upholding all the rules and procedures.
The new Chairman thanked the MPs in his first speech addressed to the House, where he assured everyone that he was now above politics and an “all-party man”.
“I feel humbled by the honour given to me…now I’m an all-party man, above party politics,” said Naidu.
He also promised to give all members equal opportunity.
“I will try to see that this House is functional, everyone of you get an opportunity…the only thing is everybody follows the rules and regulations and procedures, then everybody will definitely get an opportunity,” said the Chairman.
Naidu then went on to read how there were big debates in the Constituent Assembly reasoning the need for an Upper House in Parliament.
“The Council of States was created as a federal chamber, that is, a House elected by the elected members,” read out the Chairman. He explained how the House born out of a need to hold reflective and evaluative reasoning.
Naidu called upon the members of the House of the “world’s largest democracy” and the “world’s fastest growing economy”, to come together and take the country forward.
“Our country needs efficient and effective legislation to administer its processes, mobilise resources, build partnerships, ensure socio-economic resources,” appealed Naidu.
He also listed out multiple challenges faced by the country and asked members to work together to overcome them.
In his speech, the Chairman also focused on how time must be utilised in an efficient manner to realise India’s full potential. He touched upon the idea that the hours of the Upper House can be extended if all members were willing to be united in achieving common national goals.
“Our democratic polity allows flourishing of different ideas, thoughts on a range of socio-economic issues…but adversarial politics should not be allowed to adversely impact the functioning of Parliament, which in turn impacts the progress of our nation,” warned the Chairman.
“We are all Indians and working for the betterment of India,” he added.
Naidu recalled former President and statesman Pranab Mukherjee’s words that the Parliament should ‘discuss debate and decide, and not disrupt.’
“Every election gives the winner a mandate, and the Opposition the responsibility of ensuring accountability of the executive…I have been in Opposition for a long time…the ruling party has the power..the Opposition must at least have it’s say but at the end of the day, democracy says, the Opposition must have it’s say and the government must have it’s way because it is as per the mandate of the people…all of us must respect the mandate of the people,” said Naidu.
Naidu also had a word of caution for the media.
“Please focus on constructive debate…As the Chairman of the House and as the custodian of the House, media should report the constructive deabte that takes places in the House…members make valuable contributions..but media gives weightage to sensationalism and negativism, controversies and dramatics,” Naidu cautioned.
At the end of his speech Naidu urged Centre, states and local bodies to work as ‘Team India.’
Naidu also assured the House that he will endeavour to uphold the office of the Vice President of India, Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and live up to the trust reposed in him.