New Delhi: Bidding farewell to members retiring from the Rajya Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday lauded the contribution of his predecessor Manmohan Singh to the House and the country, and said he will be remembered whenever democracy is discussed.
Singh, he noted, came to vote in the Rajya Sabha on a wheelchair to help strengthen democracy.
As he gave his best wishes to the retiring members, he expressed the hope that they will scale new heights after getting educated in this ‘eternal university’.
He also hoped that the country and the new generations would benefit from their experience.
The prime minister said while the Lok Sabha changes every five years and is adorned with a new look, the Rajya Sabha gets a new vitality and energy after every two years, that fills it with an atmosphere of new excitement and enthusiasm.
That is why, he said the farewell every two years in this House is not a farewell, but leaves a priceless legacy with the indelible memories left behind for the new members.
“This House is a symbol of continuity,” he noted.
Hailing Singh, Modi said, “I would especially like to remember Dr. Manmohan Singh ji. For six times he has been a member of this House and has made a huge contribution to this House with his valuable thoughts.”
“As a leader and also as the Leader of the Opposition, he has made a very big contribution.
“Whenever our democracy will be discussed, he will be one of those few esteemed members whose contribution will always be remembered,” Modi said.
The prime minister said Singh coming on a wheel chair to vote in the House was an inspiring example of a member’s dedication to his duties.
“I believe he came to impart strength to democracy”, Modi said as he conveyed his good wishes for the former prime minister’s long and healthy life.
Singh was first elected to the Rajya Sabha in October 1991 after he became the Finance minister. He had six terms in the Rajya Sabha – 1991, 1995, 2001, 2007, 2013 and 2019.
He is currently a member of the Council of States from Rajasthan and his term ends on April 3, 2024.
Singh was Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha from May 2004 to 2014 when he was prime minister. He also remained as Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha from March 21, 1998 to May 21, 2004.
Prime minister Modi also urges current and future MPs of both houses to view the lives of senior, retiring MPs as a guiding light and learn from their conduct in life and from the talents they exhibited in their careers.
Marking the significance of the moment, the prime minister said members who are leaving today had the opportunity to be in both old and the new building and they are leaving bearing witness to the ‘Amrit Kaal’ and 75 years of the Constitution.
Recalling the time of the Covid pandemic when uncertainties loomed large, he lauded the commitment of MPs for not letting any hindrance come in the way of the functioning of the House.
He noted the huge risks undertaken by the Members of Parliament to fulfil their responsibilities.
Modi also expressed deep grief for those members who lost their lives to coronavirus, and said the House accepted it with grace and continued to move forward.
Quoting ancient scriptures, the prime minister explained that those who keep good company inculcate similar qualities, and those surrounded by bad company become flawed.
Sixty-eight members of Rajya Sabha are retiring between February and May after completing their term.