NEW DELHI: Virtually justifying the ongoing protests in Parliament, Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad on Wednesday said it would be unfair to blame the Opposition for forcefully raising people’s issues in the House.
As the Rajya Sabha bade farewell to about 60 of its retiring members, Azad chose the moment to justify the protests on issues like the banking scam, the Cauvery dispute or the demand for special status to Andhra Pradesh, which have disrupted the proceedings for over the past three weeks.
Asserting that “democracy is alive due to Parliament”, he said “our protests were never against the Chair or against some particular people. They weren’t politically motivated. It was not against the colleagues,” while asserting that major issues critically affecting the people were being raised.
“I want to tell the nation that if democracy is alive in the country, it is because of Parliament,” the senior Congress leader said, adding that the Opposition has a right to raise such issues in Parliament to discharge its duties.
These may “not appear good on TV”, but the MPs raising voice against either on the banking scam, or the Cauvery dispute or for the special status to Andhra Pradesh was part of discharging their duties towards the nation and by doing so, the members had no self interest or ulterior motives, he asserted.
He said that some media houses portrayed the recent opposition protests as a protest against against the Chairman, saying this was not so.
Maintaining that it was unfair to accuse the Opposition MPs of fighting and disrupting Parliament, Azad said the doors of these members remained open 24 hours for the people of their constitutencies, who have faith in them unlike on senior officials who can only meet people during office hours and that too, only through appointments.
He said the members are sent to Parliament to represent the needs of the people and raise their voice there.
The parliamentarians look after the needs of poor people, farmers, workers, women and others and fighting on their behalf and it is not that MPs would stand benefited due to raising voice, Azad astressed.
Without mentioning the BJP, he said that even the ruling party had protested in such a manner when it was in the opposition and roles in politics often got reversed.
Azad rose to speak after the speech by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which he had indirectly referred to the disruptions in the House.
Naresh Agarwal, who recently quit the SP and joined BJP, got a special mention from Azad who took a jibe at him.
He said “Naresh Agarwal ji ek aise suraj hain, jo idhar doobe, udhar nikle. Idhar nikle, udhar doobe. (Naresh Agarwal is like the Sun who sets from one end and rises from another).”
Azad said he was confident that the party he has just joined (BJP) “will use his full potential” and added that he would miss Agarwal for a number of reasons, including that he used to speak 5-6 times a day and unlike other MPs.
The Leader of Opposition also mentioned the contributions made by Deputy Chairman P J Kurien and veteran Congress leader K Rahman Khan among others. He also congratulated Arun Jaitley, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Dharmendra Pradhan and JP Nadda on their re-election to the Upper House.
While bidding farewell to retiring MPs, Azad also said that the Central Hall of Parliament was full of former MPs and he will look forward to seeing many of his retiring colleagues there.