Opposition members greeted Venkaiah Naidu with his trademark acronyms, one-liners and alliterations Friday on his first day as Rajya Sabha chairman. And Naidu quipped back: “If you cooperate, I will operate better.”
On his last day in Rajya Sabha, Sitaram Yechury (CPM), whose political background is diametrically opposite Naidu’s, spoke — in Telugu — about their personal relationship. Derek O’Brien (Trinamool) and Union minister Ramdas Athawale (RPI-A) recited rhymes in English and Hindi, while deputy chairman P J Kurien expressed confidence that under Naidu’s leadership, the House will function smoothly with justice to both sides.
Greeting the former parliamentary affairs minister, with whom he had sparred many times, Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad noted that Naidu has become “independent and not a party person”. For Naidu, his religion or party should now remain only in his mind and not in his conduct, Azad said. He reminded him of the “scale of balance” carved in the seat of chairman, and a tradition that no bill is passed in a din.
O’Brien urged Naidu not to stop using acronyms, saying he has made acronyms a new national pastime. “Let me welcome you in your favourite style — ten couplets in rhyme,” he said. One of them was “Of course, we are all confident you will not commit that one sin of ever passing a bill in the din”.
O’Brien leader also offered an acronym for NAIDU: Now All India’s Dearest Umpire. Congress leader Anand Sharma said it was important that both sides are treated justly.
Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) too said bills should not be passed in a din but added the responsibility for smooth conduct is also on those creating a ruckus; they should recognise on what issues to do so, and on what issues not to.
Yechury said he expected Naidu’s tenure to be “very illustrious” and that he will uphold the Constitution and do justice. “The country is not bricks and mortar. The country means its people. I hope that that principle will be supreme in your judgement here and that you will be able to do that,” he said.
S C Mishra (BSP) hoped all members would now get an opportunity to speak. He alleged party leader Mayawati had not been allowed to speak on July 18.
D Raja (CPI) hoped Naidu would underline the importance of multi-party democracy and urged him to “give space to all dissenting voices”. “Divergent views must be appreciated and you can be assured of our cooperation, but Constitutional values and constitutional morality must be upheld.”
Praful Patel (NCP) said the quality of debate has deteriorated and also spoke of very little time given to the smaller parties.
From among BJP allies, Bashishtha Narain Singh (JD-U) and Sanjay Raut (Shiv Sena), besides Athawale, welcomed Naidu.