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Venkaiah Naidu takes charge as Rajya Sabha chairman, says House should debate, not disrupt

New Delhi: Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday took over as the Rajya Sabha Chairman and conducted its proceedings, saying the House should debate, discuss and decide on issues but disruptions should be avoided.

Naidu said that he did not approve of legislations being passed in the din and emphasised that it can happen when there are no disruptions, in an apparent response to several opposition members urging him to continue the practice of not allowing any bill to be passed amid pandemonium.

Earlier, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had also said that since 2014, bills were not being passed in the din and had urged that the government's legislative business should be allowed be taken up smoothly.

Naidu said that members belonging to various parties were political rivals but not enemies. "We have to keep this in mind and work together," he said, adding that all members should work to strengthen the country in line with their views and ideologies.

File image of Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

File image of Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

He expressed gratitude that confidence has been reposed on "a humble agriculturist" for such an important duty.

Known for his witty one-liners, Naidu said "after all, the culture of India is agriculture."

Recalling his origins, he said he belonged to a humble background and did not have the support of any "dynasty".

He said he had lost his parents early in life "so much so that he cannot even recall the face of his mother," he said in a voice trembling with emotion.

"I am humbled by the honour", he told members and said the play of numbers was now a thing of the past for him.

"Now I am an all-party man, above party politics," Naidu said. Referring to Congress leader Anand Sharma, who had expressed expectations in this regard, he said they would be met with.

He emphasised that in the Rajya Sabha, everyone should have the opportunity to have a say on important issues, whether their party had a small number or big.

"If all follow the rules, everyone will be able get the opportunity to speak. Time management is crucial," he said.

Naidu said he had met former president Pranab Mukherjee, who said that the House should debate, discuss and decide and the fourth D, disruption, should be avoided.

In parliamentary democracy, the opposition must have its say but the government must have its way, he quipped. After all, the government has the mandate of the people, he said.

Addressing the opposition benches, Naidu said the best time of his career was during his opposition days when he would raise issues. He said he was a bitter critic but still did not cross the limits.

Speaking about the role of the Rajya Sabha, he said it is known as "a sobering House, known for the quality of debate."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Leader of House Arun Jaitley, Leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad were among those who were present in the House as the Vice-President spoke.

Earlier Jaitley recalled Naidu's long journey from being a political worker to the Vice-President. He climbed every step of the political ladder and worked hard to reach this position, Jaitley said. Having spent 20 years in the House, Naidu had the required understanding and experience.

Jaitley said there was a time when the entire opposition was in jail and constitutional amendments were passed. These are distant memories but they have taught us a lesson, he said.

Jaitley said since 2014 when the NDA came to power, bills were not being passed in din. Before that there was no such principle, he said, adding that during the UPA term, nearly 21 bills were passed amid unruly scenes.

While it is important that opposition and individual members raise issues, it was also vital that there is some time for important legislative business, he said, adding a balance should be struck for smooth running of the House.

Congress leader Anand Sharma said that Naidu had the experience of being on both sides, whether the opposition or the treasury.

Referring to Naidu's comments that he was above party politics, Sharma said it was important that both sides are treated justly.

Updated Date: Aug 11, 2017 17:11 PM

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