In a departure from sparring and clashes, political parties in Rajya Sabha today presented a picture of bonhomie as the House bade farewell to 17 members who spoke about their experiences and reinforced the message of strength of India’s deep-rooted democracy despite divergent views on issues.
Chairman Hamid Ansari led the House of Elders in appreciating the rich and significant contribution of the retiring members, saying their unique association will be cherised.
He was followed by Deputy Chairman P J Kurien, Leader of the House Arun Jaitley and Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad in paying accolades, irrespective of party lines, to their fellow members whose membership is coming to an end during the recess of Budget session from March 17 to April 25.
Subsequently, the retiring members narrated their experiences, with some of them becoming emotional.
Among those retiring are Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu (BJP), Balchand Mungekar (Nom), Ashwani Kumar (Cong), M S Gill (Cong), Mani Shankar Aiyar (Cong), Avinash Rai Khanna (BJP), Javed Akhtar (Nom), Jaishree (Nom), K Balagopalan (CPI-M) and T N Seema (CPI-M).
Leading the way, Ansari wished “happiness and all success” in the future endeavours of five nominated members and 12 members from Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Tripura and Punjab.
He said the House will miss those who are not re-elected and the experience at Rajya Sabha has been “intimately personal and intensely political.”
Kurien said, “change is unchangeable thing” but added that since “every member is this House is a politician”, no one was retiring as no politician retires.
Terming it an occasion to celebrate, Kurien said the members’ “contribution in the annals of Rajya Sabha history will be painted in golden words”. He wished luck to members.
Jaitley, the Finance Minister, said membership of the House is an honour as the members are part of ‘history in the making’.
Members of this House bring wisdom with them and are not carried away with impulses, he said, adding the Upper House has high quality of debate and “despite political differences, the atmosphere has always been of mutual respect.”
Azad equated the clashes and sparring among members in the House to ‘saas-bahu’ (mother-in-law and daughter-in-law) fights.
“Often people ask me that ‘in the House you (ruling and opposition party members) fight but outside you are seen hobnobbing’. I reply that you should not take our fights seriously. It is like ‘Saas-Bahu’ who fight but live in the same House…,” Azad said drawing laughter from members.