The fierce arguments,skirmishes,loud protests,repartee and banter that often make Parliament acrimonious and lively was missing in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday as members,shedding their political differences,bid an emotional and nostalgic farewell to 58 of their colleagues who are set to retire next month.
There was lavish oration of Urdu and Hindi couplets by members signifying it was not the end of the road for those leaving and generous praise for each other. While the mood was obviously sombre,there were subtle political messages too.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sat through the speeches which lasted for over three hours. At the end,he said,When we debate various issues,often there is tension on the surface. But I am convinced that the underlying concern of all members must be to maintain unity and integrity of our country.
Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley agreed. He said MPs disagree and differ ideologically but come together in the national interest.
The mood was set by RJDs Rajniti Prasad,who shot to the limelight in the last session when he snatched the Lokpal Bill from Union minister V Narayanasamys desk and tore it up. I have committed some mistakes too and I apologise, he said.
Congresss K Keshav Rao,who was instrumental in blocking some of the government Bills,felt the ruling party members are just being reduced to as if they are nothing at all. The party formulations and debates,he said are again constrained with what is known as party rules,whips and other such things… this also must be given a thought.
A strong votary of separate Telangana,he said,We have been trying to raise the issue of Telangana (and) today,the results show you that although we did not give scope for discussing this here,the people of Telangana have voted against what exactly we have been thinking of. Now,if that kind of thing and the peoples urge is not reflected here,it creates a problem.
S S Ahluwalia,the BJPs deputy leader who has not been re-nominated,was undoubtedly the toast of the farewell with member after member recalling his friendship with him. Recounting his 16-year tenure in the House,he lamented it was not merit or logic but numbers which matter in Parliament.
Unfortunately,our policies,our thinking,our line,our emotional ideologies are dividing India. There is no national agenda in the country till today, he said.
Viplove Thakur of the Congress said not just majority,lung power too counts. Congresss Rashid Alvi lamented the dignity of Parliaments and its members had been lowered.
In the evening,a dinner for the retiring MPs was hosted which was attended by the Prime Minister and Vice President Hamid Ansari,among others.