As The monsoon session of Parliament concluded Friday, day one as Rajya Sabha chairman for Venkaiah Naidu, the country’s new Vice President, saw political leaders from across party lines hailing the ascendance of the “farmer’s son” in the high position.
Thanking the MPs from various parties with whom he has worked or interacted for decades, Naidu talked about the beauty and majesty of parliamentary democracy and its strength, which can lift a common man like him to such an exalted position and offer opportunities to discharge onerous responsibilities that go with this position .
Naidu called for a non-partisan approach and a “shared destiny in the functioning of our legislature”. Turning emotional, he said he is from a small village, the “son of a farmer” who had lost his father and mother at a very young age.”
As a Union minister and senior party leader, Naidu was firefighting for the BJP as well as the government. “I don’t wish to talk anymore about parties, which party has supported me and which party has not,” he said. “That is not an issue. That is over now. Now, I am an all-party man, above party politics. I will be a person above politics.”
Naidu, a former information and broadcasting minister, also had advice for the media. He said there is “heartburn” among members that what is being constructively debated is not being reported, which is the “sacred duty” of media.
“This is the feeling among all the members including myself — the media is only giving weightage to sensationalism, to negativism, to controversies, and to dramatics rather than realistic attitude. One headline is not going to be a deadline. The main line is thinking of the parliamentarians and the collective decision of the parliamentarians. That is the main line and that has to be taken care of,” he said.
Naidu said while the media is free and he cannot direct them, the one thing he can can convey to them from the chair in the beginning of his tenure is, “Please focus more on constructive debate.” He also recalled how once his debate on agriculture was reported in one line though he spoke for 52 minutes.
He assured he would try to ensure that the House is functional and everyone gets an opportunity. Quoting former President Pranab Mukherjee, he said, “Parliament should discuss, debate, decide, not disrupt.”
Insisting that “we should not use the last d”, Naidu spoke at length on disruptions in Parliament. While the Opposition must at least have its say, he said, the government must have its way because it is as per the mandate of the people.
“Adversarial politics should not be allowed to have adverse impact on the functioning of Parliament which, in turn, impacts the progress of our nation. a fractious polity, finding its echoes in the legislature, impedes the forward march of our country and the people. No chamber of our parliamentary democracy can be allowed to be an extension of such a fractious polity,” he said.
Noting that obstruction and disruption of proceedings are increasingly being chosen as the first parliamentary option, he said it disilluisons the country’s people. An emerging economy like India’s should be guided more by a shared destiny in the functioning of its legislature, he said, and urged all to come together and try to take the country forward. “We don’t have the luxury of time. We need to make up for the lost opportunities over the last seven decades if our country were to realise its full potential,” he said.