Cautioning govt on ordinance, Opposition on disruptions, Pranab Mukherjee bids farewell

Mukherjee, 81, also said it was “unfortunate that the parliamentary time devoted to legislation has been declining”. He said that “with the heightened complexity of administration, legislation must be preceded by scrutiny and adequate discussion.”

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi | Updated: July 24, 2017 10:27 am
Pranab Mukherjee, Pranab Mukherjee farewell, Pranab Mukherjee farewell function, ordinance, Parliament, india news Pranab Mukherjee with PM Narendra Modi and Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Sunday. (Express Photo/Anil Sharma)

As he bid farewell to Parliament on Sunday, outgoing President Pranab Mukherjee offered some words of advice, both for the government and the Opposition. He cautioned the government against taking the “ordinance route” for legislation, saying that when Parliament enacts laws without discussion, it “breaches the trust reposed in it by the people”. Emphasising the “value of debate, discussion and dissent”, he said “disruption hurts the Opposition more than the government”.

Addressing a farewell function organised by the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha at the Central Hall of Parliament, Mukherjee, 81, also said it was “unfortunate that the parliamentary time devoted to legislation has been declining”. He said that “with the heightened complexity of administration, legislation must be preceded by scrutiny and adequate discussion.”

“Scrutiny in committees is no substitute to open discussion on the floor of the House. When Parliament fails to discharge its law-making role or enacts laws without discussion, I feel it breaches the trust reposed in it by the people of this great country,” said Mukherjee.

“I am firm in the opinion that the ordinance route should be used only in compelling circumstances and there should be no recourse to ordinances on monetary matters. Ordinance route should not be taken on matters which are being considered or have been introduced in the House or a committee of the House. If a matter is deemed urgent, the concerned committee should be made aware of the situation and should be mandated to present its report within the stipulated time,” he said.

Recalling how Parliament would “reverberate with animated discussions and illuminative and exhaustive debates on social and financial legislations,” he said: “Listening to the stalwarts for hours and days in Parliament, sitting in the Treasury or Opposition benches, I felt one with the soul of this living institution. I understood the real value of debate, discussion and dissent. I realised how disruption hurts the Opposition more than the government as it denies them the opportunity to raise the concerns of the people.”

In the past too, Mukherjee has expressed concern over the frequent disruptions in both Houses of Parliament. Calling himself a “creation of this Parliament” which shaped his “political outlook and persona”, Mukherjee recalled that he had served as a member of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for 37 years.

“Dear Friends, with a sense of gratitude and a prayer in my heart, I take leave of you. I leave with a sense of fulfilment and happiness of having served the people of this great country through this institution — as their humble servant,” he said.

Speaking on his presidential term, Mukherjee said he “strived to preserve, protect and defend our Constitution, not just in word but also in spirit.” He said he had greatly benefitted from the advice and cooperation extended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “With passion and energy, he is driving transformational changes in the country. I will carry with me fond memories of our association and his warm and courteous behaviour,” he said.

Mukherjee, 81, who was a cabinet minister in late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s cabinet, said she had “mentored” his “career as a parliamentarian”. “Her steely determination, clarity of thought and decisive actions made her a towering personality. She never hesitated to call a spade a spade,” he said.

He recalled an incident when Indira was questioned by mediapersons in London, during a visit in November 1978, about the “gains” of Emergency after the Congress lost the elections. “Looking at the journalist squarely in the eye, in a level voice, Indira Gandhi replied, ‘In those 21 months, we comprehensively managed to alienate all sections of Indian people’. Big silence followed by loud laughter. Not one question was asked after that and the mediapersons just melted away,” said Mukherjee.

“And I also learnt an early lesson of acknowledging my mistakes and rectifying them. Self-correction in such situations is always a better option than self-justification,” he told the audience comprising Prime Minister Modi, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Union Ministers and Opposition leaders among others.

Mukherjee also mentioned the “calming presence of Dr Manmohan Singh, mature advice of L K Advani and passionate support of Sonia Gandhi on social legislation.” He said his life in Parliament was “enriched by the wisdom of P V Narasimha Rao, oration of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, cryptic one-liners of Madhu Limaye and Dr Nath Pai, wit and humour of Piloo Modi, poetic discourses of Hiren Mukherjee, razor sharp repartee of Indrajit Gupta.”

In her speech, Mahajan said, “This is a solemn occasion for each one of us to express our profound respect to President Mukherjee.” Ansari, who is also set to retire on August 10, lauded Mukherjee for his “unshakable belief in the idea of India” and said he often appealed to the people to re-dedicate themselves to the democratic values of the country. “He has spoken with conviction about India’s pluralism and diversity being her greatest strength, and the need to constantly nurture and protect them,” he said. Mukherjee’s successor, Ram Nath Kovind, is scheduled to take oath on Tuesday.

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  1. M
    MP Chandran
    Jul 25, 2017 at 10:14 am
    This is perfectly reasonable advice in a democracy.Hover,Indian democracy is a different kettle of fish normal settled democracies,the party in power has a free hand to formulate policy and execute them once the bills pass through Parliament.Here,the opposition takes on the Government not only in the legislative body but also in the streets in a bid to topple the government by fair means or foul.Their filibuster tactics in parliament have led to much time lost in acrimonious,non parliamentary debate.The government has no choice but to resort to ordinance to pass laws.We have to wait for enlightened public opinion to have sensible policy debates in the Lok Sabha.
    Reply
  2. o
    ovindji too, pputting aside his political gackgrou
    Jul 24, 2017 at 11:23 am
    Pranav Mikherjee rightly the executive , particularly the Modi govt. not resort to ordinance route but to respect the parliament, the real representative of the people. He has cautioned Modi whose tendency is towards totalitarianism, to follow democratic principles. Hon'ble president has aptly performed his duty as real custodian of cons ution keeping balance with the regime which is quite opposite to his political ideology. People of the country expects same approach from the hon'ble Kovidji too keeping his aside his background of RSS/ BJP. The victims of atrocity committed in several parts of the country are awaiting for justice. And he will enfluence his cons utinal position for rapid action .
    Reply
  3. T
    T DUTTA
    Jul 24, 2017 at 10:58 am
    DURING THE TENURE OF MRS INDIRA GANDHI THERE WERE 6 PRESIDENTS [1] DR S RADHAKRISHNAN [2] DR ZAKIR HUSSAIN [3] MR V V GIRI [4] MR FAKRUDDIN ALI AHMED [5] MR NEELAM SANJEEVA REDDY [6] GIANI ZAIL SINGH-------it may be difficult to break this RECORD
    Reply
  4. T
    T DUTTA
    Jul 24, 2017 at 10:56 am
    DURING THE TENURE OF Dr SANKAR DAYAL SHARMA THERE WERE 3 PRIME MINISTERS [1] MR P V NARASIMA RAO [2] MR ATAL BIHAR VAJPAYEE [3] MR H D DEVE GOWDA
    Reply
  5. T
    T DUTTA
    Jul 24, 2017 at 10:50 am
    PRESIDENT MR R VENKATRAMAN WAS PRESIDENT FROM 1987 TO 1992---DURING HIS PERIOD ALSO THERE WERE 4 PRIME MINISTERS--[1] MR RAJIV GANDHI [2] MR V P SINGH [3] MR CHANDRASEKHAR [4] MR P V NARASIMA RAO
    Reply
  6. T
    T DUTTA
    Jul 24, 2017 at 10:47 am
    Dr S RADHAKSIHNAN WAS PRESIDENT FROM 1962 TO 1967----DURING THIS 5 YEAR PERIOD THERE WERE 4 PRIME MINISTERS [1] MR JAWARLAL NEHRU [2] MR LAL BAHADUR SHASTRI [3] MRS INDIRA GANDHI [4] MR GULZARILAL NANDA-----mr gulzarilal nanda was acting prime minister twice----------once in 1964 after the death of mr nehru and again in 1966 after the death of mr shastri
    Reply
  7. S
    sunder
    Jul 24, 2017 at 9:54 am
    Mr Editor, the Hon President is right about all the names he mentioned including Indiraji because she was a leader in her own right.But what did he learn from Italian scamster Sonia?I do not understand.I have great respect for him because he was a financial wizard.
    Reply
  8. S
    Sujit Kumar Panda
    Jul 24, 2017 at 9:24 am
    salute
    Reply
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