Breaking the party lines and rivalries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has on Tuesday gone emotional in Parliament while he spoke about his relationship with Congress MP and leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad as the latter's tenure as the MP of Rajya Sabha will be coming to an end on February 15.
In what has become a touching scene from the floor of debates and uproars, the Prime Minister was delivering the speech in the mark of bidding farewell to the members including Azad who near to hit the deadline of their tenure in Rajya Sabha. In the middle of speaking about the Union Budget and farmers' agitation, Prime Minister Modi had shared how he values friendship with Congress MP Ghulam Nabi Azad.
As the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, Azad will sit straight opposite the Prime Minister in the chamber when the latter comes to attend the house proceedings. On Tuesday, the Prime Minister addressed the upper house during which he praised the veteran Parliamentarian and senior Congress leader. Modi said that Azad's legacy in national politics will be hard to replace. He said, "As a leader of the opposition, it's easy to engage in party politics, but Ghulam Nabi Azad ji rose above this and always prioritized the prosperity of the country first".
Modi stated that Azad was the first to propose and call an all-party meet to fight the crisis as one nation. "Posts come, the high office comes, power comes and how to handle these, one must learn from Ghulam Nabi Azad. I would consider him a true friend. I have known him for years. We were Chief Ministers together. We had interacted even before I became the Chief Minister. He has a passion not many know about -gardening", the Prime Minister added.
The Prime Minister had also remembered the rapport and relationship with former President Pranab Mukherjee. Narendra Modi said, "I will never forget Shri Azad's efforts and Shri Pranab Mukherjee's efforts when people from Gujarat were stuck in Kashmir due to a terror attack. Ghulam Nabi Azad was constantly following up and he was concerned as if those stuck were his own family members".
Modi had referred to a 2007 terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir on visitors from Gujarat. When Modi spoke about Azad, he had gone emotional and broke down with tears and the Prime Minister had even offered his salute to Azad for his service as a statesman. When Prime Minister Modi went emotional, Azad too broke down with tears as the house presented the touching scenes to the country, which displayed the moment of the true color of the Indian parliament. Azad's Rajya Sabha term ends on February 15.
The Prime Minister said, "I would not let you (Azad) retire, I will continue taking your advice. My doors are always open for you. I will not let you become weak". Calling Azad as a true friend, Modi said that the person who will replace Ghulam Nabi Azad as a Leader of Opposition will have difficulty matching his work because he was not only concerned about his party but also about the country and the house".
As he had gone emotional, Modi had paused his speech and drank water following which he resumed the speech. Along with Azad, the Prime Minister had bid farewell to other members - Nazir Ahmed Laway, Mohammed Fayaz, and Shamsher Singh Manhas and they all belong to Jammu and Kashmir. The Prime Minister praised everyone for playing a crucial role in the Rajya Sabha. According to reports, the terms of two PDP Rajya Sabha MPs -Laway and Fayaz will end on February 10 and 15 respectively, while the term of two Congress MPs Azad and Manhas will be coming to an end on February 15 and 10 respectively.
In a series of tweets, the Prime Minister's Office had published the speech of Narendra Modi during bidding farewell for the outgoing members of the Upper house. Addressing the house as an outgoing member and after Modi's praises, Ghulam Nabi Azad said, "I have always felt that heaven is India. I was born after Independence. I am among those fortunate people who never went to Pakistan. When I read about circumstances in Pakistan, I feel proud to be a Hindustani Muslim (Indian Muslim)."
Azad had recalled the terror attack that took place in Jammu and Kashmir during his rule and said, "I pray to God that militancy and terrorism end in this country". "If any Muslim should feel proud in the world, it should be the Indian Muslim. Over the years, we have seen how Muslim countries from Afghanistan and Iraq are getting destroyed", added Azad. Speaking about his experience as a parliamentarian, Azad said, "I have learned a lot from this Parliament. I was initiated during Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi's tenure".
He further stated that "Later, I learned from Atal Bihari Vajpayee how to be the leader of the opposition. He made it look easy". In his farewell speech, Azad said, "In my time as the leader of the opposition, I have tried to raise the issues of education, infrastructure, and policies. I request my colleagues to debate on some days then discuss on some days and ensure that laws are not stalled forever".
Azad had also thanked the Prime Minister and the other members of the Rajya Sabha for their appreciation of his work. Azad has been serving as the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha for over six years since June 8, 2014. He would be demitting the office as the Leader of Opposition on February 15, 2021. According to reports close to the development, Azad has been surfaced with speculations that the Congress party would more likely re-elect him to the Rajya Sabha from Kerala.