It was a day when members bidding adieu to the Rajya Sabha took a walk down memory lane, recalled the years they were involved in law-making exercise and made confessions of stalling the proceedings.
Farewell addresses were made by 58 members and Meghraj Jain of the BJP, ironically, made his maiden speech on the day, some 11 months after becoming member.
Most members turned nostalgic — one member said he would often go to the well to stall the proceedings on being egged on by seniors, while a Samajwadi Party member expressed regret for not following the instructions of the Chair while protesting against the Women's Reservation Bill.
Chairman Hamid Ansari led the House in recalling the services of the retiring members. His observations found echo in the remarks of Deputy Chairman K. Rahman Khan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley.
Mr. Ansari said: “Membership of Rajya Sabha is, in itself, a great honour and an abiding political experience. I do hope, the retiring members would cherish their association with this august House and leave with a sense of fulfilment in having played a stellar role in strengthening the democratic system of the country.”
Dr. Singh, who is the leader of the House, said tensions that were generated during debates in Parliament should have no impact on the country's unity and integrity. “When we debate various issues, often there is tension. There are tensions on the surface, but underlying sentiments of all members of this House must be to maintain the unity and integrity of this country.”
The retiring members represented Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Odisha and Rajasthan in the House.
On his part, K. Keshav Rao (Congress) said perhaps it was time for the Chair to suo motu take up issues of public interest for discussion and suggested “out-of-the-box” thinking to raise issues that agitated people. Often members of the ruling coalition tend to get hemmed by constraints of politics and whip issued by parties. Unless members were able to widen the scope of a debate, the voices of the marginalised and the people may not find reflection in the discussion. The by-election results in Andhra Pradesh, he felt, was a case in point as Telangana sentiments could not be articulated.
S.S. Ahluwalia (BJP) recalled his journey from being a student leader in the Congress to becoming a minister in P.V. Narasimha Rao's Council of Ministers and then crossing over to the BJP during his four-term stay in the House.
Keywords: RS MPs' retirment