Prime Minister Narendra Modi bade farewell to Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, praising him for his witty one-liners and encouraging parliamentarians to speak in their mother tongue and promoting democratic values during his “highly productive” five-year term.
Naidu completes his five-year term as Vice-President on August 10.
Underscoring Naidu’s penchant for words, “Your style of expression is as impeccable as it is unique,” Modi said, adding that Naidu’s political journey reaffirmed one’s belief in linguistic diversity of the country. “Your one-liners are wit-liners and win-liners as well… There is nothing left to be said after that. Your each word is heard, preferred, revered and never countered,” Modi said in his speech.
“When there was a confrontation in the House, we always heard from you ‘let the government propose, opposition oppose, parliament dispose!’,” he said.
“Under your leadership and discipline, the productivity of this House touched new heights. During your term, Rajya Sabha’s productivity has increased 70 per cent. Attendance of members in the House also increased,” the PM said, adding, “There is both depth and substance in what M Venkaiah Naidu Ji says; there is warmth and wisdom too in what he says”.
Modi said Independence Day this year will be celebrated with the President, Vice-President, Lok Sabha Speaker and Prime Minister being all born in Independent India. “And each of them comes from very humble backgrounds,” he said.
Following the PM’s speech, Opposition leader Mallikarjuna Kharge thanked Naidu for facilitating a discussion in 2012 as then Chairman of Standing Committee on Article 371J of the Constitution that contains special provisions for the Hyderabad-Karnataka region. “You allowed the members to speak in all the 22 languages of the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution and gave an opportunity for many MPs to speak in their mother tongue. You also encouraged and motivated the MPs of non-Hindi areas to speak in Hindi,” Kharge added.
TMC member Derek O’Brien recalled how Naidu, as an infant, lost his mother to an accident. “I am sure that will make a good story for your autobiography which you must write,” he said, adding, “Sir, of all the happy things we remember is the great food you served us and the great host that you are. Not only you, but, I think, equal credit should go to Mrs Naidu.”
DMK Leader Tiruchi Siva praised the Vice-President for changing the colonial language of the House.
BJD leader Sasmit Patra thanked Naidu for encouraging young parliamentarians in the House. Jairam Ramesh of the Congress said “there have been two distinguished Indians from Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh who have occupied the position of Vice-President and Chairman of the Rajya Sabha…Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu… Five years ago, when you took over, you started your innings characteristically by saying, ‘If you cooperate, I can operate.’ Today, after five years of cooperation and operation, it is time for separation,’’ said Ramesh, adding that it was an emotional moment.
TMC’s Jawahar Sircar said that Naidu, under whom he served as a bureaucrat, recalled how Naidu bade him a gracious farewell from the bureaucracy. “I am not comfortable with disruptive politics. I understand and support the need for protest. Protest is an essential ingredient of democracy… I have had the good fortune of having fair ministers like you, Mr Jaitley and Mr Javadekar — and in the Chair,’’ Sircar said.
RJD’s Manoj Jha said that Naidu’s “your time is up’’ [as Rajya Sabha Chair] haunted him even in the classroom in Delhi University, as “I checked the clock every three minutes expecting to hear the words”.
CPM’s Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya remembered the day he took oath: “On that day, I took the oath in my mother tongue, Bangla…I think, what impressed everybody is your concept of plurality.’’
A farewell message on behalf of the Rajya Sabha members was presented to Naidu by Harivansh. In the message, the members of the Upper House said: “As an immaculate wordsmith, you (Naidu) have often added a dash of humour when tensions ran high by weaving words together in a rhyming but meaningful way. Your oratorical brilliance laced with instant wit and humour makes you one of the finest speakers we have witnessed in our parliamentary polity in recent times.” “Sir, we are beholden to you for deftly steering the functioning of the House during the unprecedented Covid pandemic. Your concerns in ensuring our personal health and safety during the difficult time while making the House functional will be remembered for times to come,” it read.