Discrimination on the basis of religion, caste or gender is unacceptable to any “nationalist” and this approach should be followed by everyone, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu said Sunday. Naidu, who is also the Rajya Sabha Chairman, called for deciding upon a national policy on the need for the Upper House in state legislatures, and urged political parties to evolve a consensus on the code of conduct for their members both inside and outside legislatures.
He made the remarks during the launch of the book ‘Moving on…Moving forward: A year in office’. The event was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former prime ministers — Manmohan Singh and H D Deve Gowda, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Rajya Sabha’s Deputy Leader of Opposition Anand Sharma.
Noting that the last session was called the “Session for Social Justice”, Naidu said it was important to consider and pass legislations that reflect collective commitment to social justice.
“In order to build a more inclusive society, there is a need to move towards ensuring proportional representation of all groups, especially those which have till now been under represented,” he said.
There is a need to cleanse politics, strengthen parliamentary and governance institutions, give a big push to next level of reforms to harness the entrepreneurial and economic potential, harness the energies of young India, and ensure sustainable and remunerative agriculture, Naidu said.
He also called for upholding the rich traditions of cultural diversity and nationalism. “Nationalism, according to me — Bharat Mata ki Jai…it means ‘Jai Ho’ to all the 130 crore people irrespective of their caste, creed, sex or religion.
“Any discrimination on the basis of religion, any discrimination on the basis of caste, any discrimination on the basis of gender, is not acceptable to any nationalist. That sort of approach should be there among everyone of us. I hope we all move in that direction,” Naidu said.
Talking about the issue of political defections, he said the anti-defection laws should be implemented in letter and spirit expeditiously, within three months. “I know that this is absolutely feasible since I could dispose off the petitions that I received within this time frame,” Naidu asserted.
In his remarks, the Rajya Sabha chairman urged all the political parties to evolve a code of conduct for MPs and MLAs both within and outside the Houses for effective functioning of legislatures to restore the confidence of the people in parliamentary institutions.
Voicing concern over the functioning of legislators in the country, he also urged parties to come together, transcending political considerations, on issues of national importance.
Naidu described the book launched Sunday as a report to the people on his mission and its outcomes during the year since he was sworn in as vice president on August 11 last year.
“While there is cause for a great deal of celebration in the way Indian economy is shaping up and how India’s standing in the comity of nations has been steadily going up, I am a little unhappy that our Parliament is not functioning as it should,” he said.
Naidu also said election petitions and criminal cases against political leaders should be decided quickly by special benches of higher courts. He also urged political parties to consider issues concerning women dispassionately to ensure their safety and dignity. He called for ending discrimination against women on the basis of religion and other factors.
Naidu called for reservation for women in all spheres, including legislatures. Stressing that agriculture is the basic culture of the country, the vice president said there was a need for a bias towards farmers in resource allocation to ensure remunerative farming and a robust food security.
During the last year, in 60 visits to different parts of the country, including all the seven northeastern states, Naidu said he interacted with the youth, farmers, and scientists, and made an effort to promote public discourse on four key issues of broader concern.
He said the four key issues were the huge untapped demographic dividend, an effective and enabling ecosystem for remunerative farming in the country, orienting scientific and research efforts to better the lives of the people, and enhancing public awareness about rich Indian heritage and inculcating national pride in “our pluralistic, inclusive, harmonious world view”.
Naidu also asserted the benefits of reservation should reach everyone. He also expressed his disappointment over the frequent disruptions in Rajya Sabha.
“I have not hesitated in recording in the book just now released, my disappointment over the functioning of Rajya Sabha during the first two sessions that I have presided over.
“But I have also referred to the new tidings during the recently concluded Monsoon Session raising hopes. So, there is a hope but we need to stay on course. My earnest endeavour has been to facilitate informed and dignified debates befitting the stature of this hallowed institution,” he said.