‘One who replaces Azad will have to toil hard to match up to his stature as LoP’
New Delhi: Bidding farewell to the four Members of the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, an emotional Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the one who will be replacing Ghulam Nabi Azad as Leader of Opposition, will have to strive really hard to match up to his stature.
He said that as a Leader of Opposition, he was not only concerned about his party but the country at large.
Talking about his contributions to the House, Modi said that during the early days of Coronavirus pandemic, he met floor leaders of the Parliament, but Azad called up and suggested that he should meet all the party leaders. “I followed his advice as he has had the experience of both ruling and Opposition side”, the PM added.
Recollecting his memories with the Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister said, “Years ago, one day when I was not active in electoral politics and had come to Parliament for some work, we were chatting in the lobby, the journalists present there got curious and asked about our meeting. At this, Azad gave an apt reply: ‘you may have seen us fighting on TV channels and streets but in this complex we all are one”.
“We have been very close, there has not been an occasion when we have not been in touch.” the PM added.
Modi choked up when he remembered an incident of militant attack on Gujarat tourists in Jammu and Kashmir. “Eight people of Gujarat were killed in the incident. The first call I received was from Ghulam Nabi. That call was not only to inform me of the incident, but was of concern, like a family member”, he said.
“His tears were not stopping on the phone,” Modi said and added that he spoke to the then Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee to ask for an aircraft to ferry the bodies back home. “The Minister ensured me that an aircraft would be provided”.
‘Ghulam Nabi called again called me up from the airport at night and was still crying’, he further said.
“As a friend, I respect him as a tall leader. His desire to work for this country will never let him sit idle. Whatever responsibility he is given, he will add value to it. I thank him for his contributions. Personally, I would request that he should never think that he is no longer a Member of the House. My doors are open for all four of you to come and give suggestions to me,” Modi commented.
Bidding farewell to the three other Members of Jammu and Kashmir, the PM Modi said that they made contributions to the Parliament and to public service.
“Not a single session has gone by when Mir Mohammad and Nazir Ahmed has not discussed issues of Jammu and Kashmir with me in my chamber”, he said.
“They also visited me with their families and during the conversation, the kind of information and insight they provided was unique, their commitment and ability will be useful for the country and to J&K”, Modi said.
Recollecting his association with the Member Shamsher Singh, the Prime Minister said, “I have known him for decades, we have travelled together on a scooter. Shamsher was among the people who were jailed young during the Emergency,” During his tenure as Member of this House, his attendance in Rajya Sabha was 96 per cent, he added.