Ruling NDA candidate and JD(U) member Harivansh Narayan Singh was on Thursday elected as the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, securing 125 votes as against 105 polled by opposition candidate BK Hariprasad.
The post of the deputy chairman was lying vacant since the retirement of PJ Kurien on 1 July.
Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu began the proceedings on Thursday, inviting MPs to submit the motion proposing a colleague's name for the constitutional position. The nomination of Harivansh was proposed by MP Ram Prasad Singh and BJP president Amit Shah among others.
Shortly after general secretary of the Upper House, Desh Deepak Verma explained the voting process, members of the House participated in a voice vote followed by a division of votes.
Naidu held the voting twice, after a few MPs complained that they couldn't register their vote on the machine.
After the results of 125 votes for Harivansh Narayan Singh against 105 votes for Congress' BK Hariprasad were announced, the entire House congratulated the former with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Leader of the House Arun Jaitley and Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad felicitating him.
Jaitley, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar and senior Congress leader Azad accompanied Harivansh to the seat designated for the Deputy Chairman in the House, which is next to that of the Leader of Opposition.
Addressing the House, Azad said the deputy chairman must support the Opposition as they are more "undernourished". "In elections, some on wins and someone loses. But the Deputy Chairman is no longer a part of any single party. He belongs to the country now. In fact, I believe that Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the House should in-fact support the Opposition as they are more undernourished than that of the ruling party," he said.
Prime Minister Modi also congratulated Harivansh on his election. Speaking on the occasion, Modi talked about achievements of Harivansh, a journalist for about four decades.
"Today we mark the anniversary of the Quit India Movement. Harivansh ji hails from Ballia, a land linked with freedom fighters. He has been inspired by Loknayak JP. He also spent time in Varanasi. Here is a leader who worked with a statesman like (former prime minister) Chandra Shekhar ji. Working closely with Chandra Shekhar ji, Harivansh ji knew in advance that Chandra Shekhar ji would resign. However, he did not let his own paper have access to this news. This shows his commitment to ethics and public service. He is a learned man. He has read a lot of books and has also written extensively," he said.
Harivansh, 62, is the former editor of Prabhat Khabar, one of the most prominent newspapers of Bihar and Jharkhand, which for years championed the cause of special category status for Bihar. He left the daily after becoming a Rajya Sabha member in 2014.
Hoping that Harivansh would do justice to all members of the House, Modi in a lighter vein said the situation in the House is such that the umpire faces more problems than players. He also said that Harivansh was offered a job by the Reserve Bank of India but he did not take it.
Speaking about the JD(U) leader's experience, Modi added, "His experience, commitment and expertise of dealing people will help the House. He had earlier run a column on how the parliamentarians of the country should work. Little did he know that he will one day be the Deputy Chairperson of the House. We all will benefit from his experience." The prime minister said while the outcome of the election was known, yet there was a contest as per procedures and the new members got training on how to vote in the House.
Union minister Arun Jaitley, who attended the proceedings in the Rajya Sabha for the first time since undergoing a renal transplant in May, said the newly-elected deputy chairman never made personal attacks on anyone and hoped that he would further better the discourse in the House.
Born on 30 June, 1956, in Uttar Pradesh's Balia, Harivansh did his post-graduate in Economics from Banaras Hindu University (BHU). He also did his PG Diploma in Journalism from BHU. He has been an associate of renowned socialist Jai Prakash Narayan.
House chairman Naidu also congratulated Harivansh, outlining his reticent nature and encouraged him to work for the country, and not any particular party ideology. "For all those who think that I get emotional in the House, let me assure that Harivansh is a calm person. It is exemplary that he has been elected for the post despite being a first-time lawmaker. I congratulate the House for completing the election before the Monsoon Session is completed. Being a chairperson, I can suggest to him that we should neither look left nor right and work only for the country," Naidu remarked.
Soon after, Harivansh addressed the House and extended his gratitude and asserted that he belonged to neither party as a Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. "Now that I have been designated to this role, I belong to neither of the party. But I take this opportunity to thank the party that has given me this opportunity. I would also like to thank PM Modi and Arun Jaitley who came to Rajya Sabha today (Thursday)," he said.
The former journalist also expressed his nervousness and said he never imagined he would hold an office in the Parliament as important as this. "I have learned a lot working with you all, and am certain that it will help me deal with matters better. I am also nervous because I will be working with Parliamentarians who come with a lot of experience and knowledge," he said.
Harivansh later presided over the proceedings of the House and was applauded with thumping of desks by members. He, thereafter, adjourned the House till 2 pm.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Aug 09, 2018 16:44 PM