The Rajya Sabha on Thursday bid farewell to 72 lawmakers whose term in the Upper House ended between March and July. In his speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the experience gained by the members within the four walls of the House could now be spread in four different directions of the country to inspire the younger generation.
The PM said academic knowledge can have its limitations, but experience, when combined with knowledge, can be a powerful instrument for problem solving. “Academic knowledge can be put to use in seminars, but what is gained through experience is helpful in finding simple solutions to problems,” the PM said.
He said when experienced people are not part of the decision-making process, there can be some deficiencies in policies for the newer generation, therefore the responsibility on those present also increases.
The PM also urged the retiring members to pen down their experiences so that these could serve as a reference point for the future generations. “We take back more from the house then we gave. We experience India’s diversity in its social structure in this house. Everyone sitting on either side of the aisle has in some way or the other contributed to give direction to this country,” he said.
He urged the lawmakers to make use of the ongoing celebrations of India’s 75th year of independence and said they now had a much larger stage to contribute to. He also said that he would try to meet all the retiring members individually and tell them about their strengths that he noticed in Parliament.
Rajya Sabha chairperson, M Venkaiah Naidu informed the house that retiring members from 19 states had a total parliamentary experience of 181 terms, including 143 terms in the Rajya Sabha and 38 in the Lok Sabha. He referred to the members as a “vast pool of considerable legislated experience, domain knowledge, parliamentary skills and proven performance in the house”. Naidu said it was not very often that such a pool of performers retired in one go.
Naidu also said 27 members had the experience of serving two or more terms in the Rajya Sabha. Among those whose terms are ending include four Union ministers — Nirmala Sitharaman, Piyush Goyal, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Ramchandra Prasad Singh.Naidu, also informed the house that 84-year-old SR Balasubramoniyan is the only member who attended all the 234 sittings of the House during the 12 sessions from 2017 till the winter session last year.
In his speech, leader of the Opposition, Mallikarjun Kharge, said despite differences in opinion, the members in the Upper House ensured that work was executed efficiently. Several members shared their experiences in the Upper House.
Earlier in the day, 203 lawmakers- both retiring and sitting –gathered for a group photo. According to the Rajya Sabha Secretariat, the last time such a picture was taken was in 2018 and the practice had to be discontinued owing to the Covid pandemic. The Upper House spent 6 hours and 27 minutes reading out farewell speeches by the PM, chairperson, deputy chairperson, Leader of the Opposition, floor leaders of nine parties, 11 members and 40 retiring members. Later in the day Naidu also held a farewell dinner for the lawmakers at his residence.
Among the retiring members are Congress leaders AK Antony, Ambika Soni, P Chidambaram, Jairam Ramesh, Anand Sharma; Nationalist Congress Party’s Praful Patel; Biju Janata Dal’s Prasanna Acharya, Sasmit Patra; Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut; Shiromani Akali Dal’s Naresh Gujral and Balwinder Singh Bunder; Samajwadi Party’s Revati Raman Singh and VP Nishad; Bahujan Samaj Party’s Satish Chandra Misra; and seven nominated members, including MC Mary Kom, Narendra Jadhav, Swapan Dasgupta and RJD’s Misa Bharti.
In his speech Prasanna Acharya said history will decide about the decisions taken in the House. He said democracy is about majority but cannot live without the opposition, which gives it vibrancy. He said the BJD MPs have never shown disrespect for Parliamentary procedure and have never trooped into the well to protest, thereby maintaining the dignity of the House.
Anand Sharma also underlined the role of the opposition and said even God’s chariot cannot move ahead on a single wheel. He said political differences are the strength of democracy and one must remember that in political life, the opposition or the critics are not seen as enemies.