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DEBATE, Discourse & Dissent Are The Guiding Principles of Parliamentary Democracy: Pranab Mukherjee

July 24, 2017 3:22:00 PM IST Pranab Kumar Chakravarty

OUTGOING President of India Pranab Kumar Mukherjee has reminded Parliamentarians that discussion, debate as well as dialogue are part and parcel of democratic way of life the ancient nation is proud of. Soft spoken, known for his elephantine memory, the short statured rural boy who had later served the nation in varied capacities, for obvious reasons became emotional in the historic Central Hall of India’s Parliament on Sunday. Members of The Lok Sabha and The Rajya Sabha led by Vice President M. Hamid Ansari, who is also Chair of the Upper House, his Lok Sabha Counterpart Sumitra Mahajan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi assembled there in tearful eyes to bid farewell to the veteran politician, administrator ahead of demitting the august office.

Speaking on the occasion, President Pranab Mukherjee observed that he was a creation of the Parliament – an individual whose political outlook and persona has been shaped by this temple of democracy. He recalled that he first entered the portals of this hallowed institution 48 years ago at the age of 34 and spent 37 years as a Member of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and his parliamentary career has been instructive and educative. During those days, he said, both the Houses of the Parliament used to reverberate with animated discussions and illuminative and exhaustive debates on social and financial legislations. Noting that he had experienced the joy of the enactment of pro-poor and pro-farmer legislations in early days of his parliamentary career, Mukherjee mentioned that the recent passage of Goods and Services Tax and its launch on 1st July 2017 was a shining example of co-operative federalism and spoke volumes of the maturity of Indian Parliament. Mukherjee said that he had the privilege of being a witness and a participant in the unfolding scenario of emergence of a great India. Mentioning that not a single part of this vast territory of 3.3 million square kilometres of landmass and islands is unrepresented in the Parliament and voice of each of the member is important, he showed his concern that the parliamentary time devoted to legislation has been declining. He suggested that with the heightened complexity of administration, legislation must be preceded be scrutiny and adequate discussion. He stressed that when the Parliament fails to discharge its law-making role or enacts laws without discussion, it breaches the trust reposed in it by the people. Mukherjee said that he had greatly benefitted from the advice and co-operation extended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at every step.

PM Modi is driving transformational changes in the country with passion and energy and he would carry with him fond memories of Modi’s association and his warm and courteous behaviour, Shri Mukherjee added. In his address, Hamid Ansari observed that Mukherjee adorned the highest office in land, bringing to it great distinction and dignity. Ansari said that Mukherjee’s contributions in enriching our national life, parliamentary institutions and political discourse are highly regarded along with his unshakable belief in the idea of India. Lauding the contribution of Mukherjee as a parliamentarian, Ansari said that he strove to raise the level of debates and discussions in Parliament by erudite articulation on issues of public importance. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan recalled that retiring President always held the institution of Parliament and its traditions in the highest regard and upheld the dignity and decorum of both the Houses. She said that he earned the respect of all with his disarming persuasive skills, intellectual farsightedness and unwavering commitment to the basic tenets of parliamentary democracy and political pluralism. Noting that Mukherjee possessed impeccable knowledge of constitutional and parliamentary rules and procedures and exemplary memory of events and precedents, she said that he had been a guru from whom generations of parliamentarians have received lessons on the operational dynamics of our parliamentary polity. With his thoughtfulness and wisdom, he brought dignity and respect to the august office of the President. Later, Vice President Hamid Ansari; and Speaker of Lok Sabha Sumitra Mahajan presented memento to Pranab Kumar Mukherjee.

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Pranab Kumar Chakravarty

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