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There can be opponents in politics but not enemies: Shekhawat

Bhairon Singh Shekhawat

Bhairon Singh Shekhawat  

Sandeep Dikshit

NEW DELHI: The Rajya Sabha on Friday felicitated Vice-President and Chairman of the House Bhairon Singh Shekhawat (83) for completing four years in office.

The ruling party and its allies, the supporting parties and the Opposition complimented him for his fairness in conducting the proceedings and tackling controversial moments.

Mr. Shekhawat said he had left his political affiliations behind on becoming Vice-President (the post is co-terminus with the Chairmanship of the Rajya Sabha) and he did not practise political discrimination while presiding over the House. He reminisced how he wept along with party leaders after he was nominated by the Bharatiya Janata Party for the post of Vice-President.

"Not entirely confident"

Mr. Shekhawat recalled that he was not entirely confident of his ability to conduct the House proceedings because of his limited experience he sat in the Speaker's chair for a day as pro-tem Speaker in the Rajasthan Assembly by virtue of being the seniormost legislator to swear in other newly elected members.

"But God was kind to me and I also tried to work earnestly. I have learnt a lot and I am very happy that everybody has expressed kind feelings towards me," he said.

With a public career spanning six decades, Mr. Shekhawat's "mantra" all these years had been: "there can be opponents in politics but there should not be enemies."

As member after member complimented him, Mr. Shekhawat showed glimpses of humour that often helped him douse tempers and rein in recalcitrant members. Midway through the accolades, he turned towards Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Suresh Pachouri, who was the first to greet the Vice-President when the House assembled, and observed: "The question hour has been done away with. And you are responsible for it."

To former wrestler Dara Singh's (nominated) observation that his wife often wondered at Mr. Shekhawat's ability to control the House, he said: "I hope by now your wife must have learnt to keep you under control after watching me conduct the proceedings."

And finally when his reply to the felicitations ended at the stroke of 12, he said: "The question hour is over."

Even while accepting the bouquets, the Vice-President expressed "regrets" over the loss of question hour and felt that someone had been "clever" enough to stage-manage the events.

As Mr. Shekhawat turned to give a quizzing glance at Mr. Pachouri, he rose quickly to point at the Ministers who were supposed to answer Friday's list of questions.

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