As his second term as the Vice President of India came to an end on Thursday, Hamid Ansari was given a grand farewell, hosted by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. Ansari served 10 years as the Vice-President of India, by virtue of which he was the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha as well.
Ansari was lauded for his constant endeavour to stick to the rules. After staying in term for a decade, Ansari was showered with praise by the Parliamentarians on Thursday for his contribution towards enriching the functioning of the Upper House.
A day before retiring, Ansari had raked up a controversy by stating there was a feeling of unease and a sense of insecurity among Muslims in the country. While he received criticism from the BJP and the now Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu, he was still hailed by many who worked with and under him during his term.
Bidding goodbye to the then vice-president, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Ansari's diplomatic stint in West Asia has had an influence on him and that he could freely pursue his "basic ideology" now after shedding Constitutional duties.
Modi said that despite retiring from service, Ansari had mostly worked with the Minority Commission and Aligarh Muslim University. Stressing that Ansari had made a good effort at his role as the Chairman, Modi said, "There may have been some struggle within you (all these years) but from now onwards, you won't have to face this dilemma. You will have a feeling of freedom and you will get an opportunity to work, think and talk according to your ideology."
Talking about Ansari's diplomatic career, the prime minister quipped that the way a diplomat talks or shakes hands, have a meaning and it cannot be understood immediately.
Modi said though he did not have much interaction with Ansari, he had understood a lot from him whenever they met. "I hope you will continue to guide the nation in moving forward on the path laid down by the Constitution," he added. Modi also noted that the outgoing Chairman had also kept himself physically fit.
Calling the occasion as nostalgic for both Ansari and the members, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, "The chairperson's job is a very challenging job in this House ... This House, unlike in 1950s and 1960s, now has a changed character. It really reflects the strength of the parties in the state.
"The character of this House is that things start with a lot of acromonius debate, noise, disruptions but eventually you would have seen during your tenure that nothing remains indefinitely held up," he said.
Jaitley said that a Chairman's job is also a thankless job, adding "you take the good with not so good".
He said that Ansari's tenure might have seen disturbances but it also saw a high quality of debates on many occasion. "I am sure you retire from this House with great memories. We all recollect the sage advice that you kept giving to us and through us to the country from time to time... We will always have memories of you as the Chair and how you lent dignity to the quality of the debates in the house while presiding over it," the finance minster said.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad praised Ansari his way of conducting the proceedings of the House. Azad recalled his long association with Ansari, and said that the then Chairman had received several honorary degrees by different countries, but had never used them.
Samajwadi Party too praised Ansari. Ram Gopal Yadav said that Ansari conducted the Upper House without any discrimination and never allowed any legislation to be passed in din. Yadav hoped that Naidu too would continue the tradition. Naresh Agrawal said people are known by the Chair they hold, but Ansari had shown that the Chair is known by the person holding it. "You taught me discipline and I thought the point of order to this House," he said.
While most members hailed Ansari for his conduct in the House, Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien took a note of the then vice-president's fitness habits. He said that Ansari did yoga and routinely went for evening walks to maintain good health. He also joked that Ansari must have set a world record for eating sandwiches everyday at lunch for the past 40 years.
Appreciating Ansari's decision to shift the Question Hour from 11am to noon, CPM leader Sitaram Yechury hoped that in future too legislations would not be allowed to be passed amidst din.
Yechury also appreciated of Ansari's initiative of starting the Rajya Sabha TV channel. He also took to social media to further praise the then outgoing vice-president.
Ansari had become the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha during the tenure of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. On Thursday, Singh hailed Ansari's contribution in the House and said the country progressed largely because of people like him.
Singh said he had received maximum possible guidance and cooperation from the then Chairman. He then quoted an Urdu couplet of Iqbal which says, "Kuch baat hai ki hasti mit-ti nahin hamari; warna sadiyon raha hai dushman daur-e-zaman hamara. (There is something about us that despite adversity, we survive)."
"When I reflect on India's history, the tensions, the challenges that our country faces from time to time. Yet it keeps on going, progressing..., it is largely because people of your capacity have guided this country in various capacities from time to time," Singh told Ansari.
Describing Ansari as his friend, philospher and guide, Singh wished Ansari a life of a thousand years.
Union minister Ramdas Athavale paid tribute to Ansari in the Rajya Sabha by reciting a few lines which left many members, including leader of the House Arun Jaitley, laughing. "We wished that you could get another five years, but you belonged to that side and was not possible," he said.
NCP member Majeed Memon said that managing children in a primary school or kindergarten may not be as difficult as handling the House but Ansari always managed to do an exceptional job. He said Ansari's performance in public sphere would continue to be important for the country.
Sanjay Raut said Ansari, as Chairman never allowed any advocate, either on the ruling side or the opposition side, to flout the rules of the House. He always imposed "vice-president's rule" and ensure that no norms are flouted, Raut quipped.
Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien said he had enjoyed working with Ansari. "You protected me, you guided me and you corrected me," he said, adding "if we were to choose our destiny, then we all would pass a resolution to have Chairman Hamid Ansari for another term."
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Aug 11, 2017 14:24 PM