Acknowledging that India does not have enough parliamentary interactions with Rwanda and Uganda, Vice President Hamid Ansari today said the government will step up legislature-level cooperation that would give parliamentarians a first-hand experience about the country’s foreign policies. The Vice President also underlined that there was “gap from our side” in the frequency of high-level visit to such countries, and these gaps would be filled. “During the interactions with the President of Senate in Rwanda and the Speaker of Ugandan Parliament, it was felt that in both places, parliamentary interactions were not enough and I will agree with that…something I will go back to, and in consultation with Lok Sabha Speaker work out, how best we can bridge this gap.
“Because in both countries, MPs play an important role in shaping support towards government policies,” Ansari told reporters.
The Vice President was interacting with reporters en route to Delhi from Ugandan capital Kampala after concluding his five-day two-nation tour, which also took him to another East African country Rwanda.
“This was first high-level visit from India to Rwanda and after 1997, no such visit has taken place to Uganda, from our side. The gap was from our side, as they have been participating in Indian Africa Summit and Vibrant Gujarat events,” he said.
Ansari, also Chairman of Rajya Sabha, said, both “the countries received India with exceptional warmth and held talks with us. And, I must say the cordiality was evident.”
The issue of parliamentary interactions came up during Ansari’s meeting wih Rwandan Senate President Bernard Makuza and Speaker of Ugandan Parliament Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga.
“It is a valid point they raised in both countries. But, there are constraints from our side, their sides…It is not that they don’t meet, they meet in parliamentary interactions in Geneva, but that is not enough interaction. A visit by parliamentary delegation will boost understanding of Africa, and what are the areas of policies, which goes a long way in shaping government’s policies,” he said.
Ansari visited the two countries from from February 19-23, accompanied by his wife Salma Ansari, Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Vijay Sampla, four MPs — Kanimozhi, Ranvijay Singh Judev, Ranee Narah and P K Biju, and senior officials.
Rwanda has nearly 64 per cent seats reserved for women in its parliament and Uganda has also made a policy to send at least one woman representative from each district.
The Vice President had said that this visit was part of a “conscious effort” by the Indian government to “intensify interactions” with Africa.