English rendering of PM’s remarks on election of Shri Harivansh Narayan Singh as Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha

I congratulate Shri Harivanshji on behalf of the entire House and all the countrymen for his election as deputy chairman of this House for the second time.

I have a lot of respect for Harivanshji in my heart for the way he has carved his honest image in the world of social work and journalism. I feel that the people who know him closely have the same respect and warmth that I have for him; and so does every member of the House. Harivanshji has himself earned this respect and affinity.  It is also natural given his style of working and the manner in which he conducts the House proceedings. Your impartial role in the House strengthens democracy.

Mr. Chairman Sir, this time the proceedings of the House is being conducted in extreme circumstances that were never seen before. It is the duty of all of us that in the prevailing circumstances due to Corona, this House functions and fulfils its important obligations towards the country. I am confident that we will discharge our duties by ensuring all precautions and guidelines.

Mr. Chairman, the more cooperation the Rajya Sabha members extend to the Deputy Chairman in running the House smoothly, there will be more utilization of time and everybody will be safe.

Mr. Chairman Sir, Harivanshji has lived up to the trust at every level that we had reposed in him for the responsibility of the Upper House of Parliament. In my last address, I had said that I have firm belief that as the God is for everybody, similarly, the House’s God will also be there for the ruling as well as opposition members. The god of our House, Harivanshji, should remain unbiased to everybody without any discrimination, and he should not be party to either ruling or opposition.

I had also said that the umpires are more troubled than the players in this field of the House. It is very challenging to force the parliamentarians to play according to the rules. I had full faith that he would be a better umpire, but Harivanshji has won the trust of those who were not well acquainted with him through his decisiveness and decisions.

Mr. Chairman Sir, these two years are proof how Harivanshji has discharged his responsibility successfully. Harivanshji operated the House efficiently by organizing in-depth discussions on the important legislations and getting the bills passed quickly by sitting for hours. During this time, many historic bills regarding the country’s future were passed in this House. In the last year itself, this House has created a record of maximum productivity in 10 years. And that too, when Lok Sabha elections were underway last year!

It is a matter of pride for every member that there has been more positivity along with productivity. Everybody could put forth his views openly. Concerted efforts have been noticed so that the work of the House is not disrupted. It has also enhanced the dignity of the House. This was also the aspiration of Constitution makers from the Upper House. Harivanshji has shown how a torchbearer of democracy who comes from Bihar, a land known for its democratic ethos, and also the land of JP and Karpuri Thakur and Bapu’s Champaran, comes forward and discharges his responsibilities.

When you discuss about Harivanshji with his close associates, then one comes to know why he is so grounded. His early education happened in a makeshift school under a neem tree in his village. It is the upbringing of his education that he could relate himself to the ground realities.

We all know very well that Harivanshji comes from Sitab Diyara village, which belonged to Jayaprakashji.  This village is the birthplace of Jayaprakashji. Every year, Diyara, divided between two rivers, the Ganges and the Ghagra, and between the two states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar’s three district Arrah, Ballia, Chhapra, would become an island as it used to be flooded.  Barely, one crop could be cultivated. The only way to go anywhere was by crossing the river on boat.

Harivanshji received the practical knowledge that contentment is satisfaction from the prevailing conditions at his village home. Once, somebody told me an incident about his background. Harivanshji needed shoes for the first time when he reached High School. He did not have shoes, as he had never bought. So, a person who used to make shoes in the village was asked to prepare shoes for Harivanshji. Harivanshji would often visit him to see the progress of the shoe. Like a rich man visits his bungalow frequently to see its progress, Harivanshji would also go there quite often to monitor the progress of the shoes. Every day, he would ask the cobbler by when his shoes would be ready. You can imagine why Harivanshji is so grounded.

He was deeply influenced by JP. During that time, his love for books also grew up. I got to know of an incident related to that. When Harivanshji received the government scholarship for the first time, some members of his family had hoped that he would bring the entire scholarship money home. Instead of bringing the scholarship money home, Harivanshji spent the entire money on books. He brought home several books, including autobiographies and literature. Since then, Harivanshji’s love for books remains intact.

Mr. Chairman Sir, Harivanshji made an entry to Parliament in 2014 after nearly four decades of journalism of social issues. The way Harivanshji maintained the propriety as the deputy chairperson of the House, his tenure as a parliamentarian has been equally graceful. As a member, Harivanshji put forth his views, be it on economy or strategic security, in a very effective manner.

We all know that he has made a mark by putting his views gracefully. He has made every effort to serve the nation with his knowledge and experience as a member of the House. Harivanshji has also worked to enhance India’s dignity and stature at all international forums, whether it is the numerous sittings of Inter-Parliamentary Union, or his responsibility as a member of the Indian cultural delegations in other countries. Harivanshji has enhanced the dignity of India and the country’s parliament at all such places. 

Mr. Chairman Sir, besides being the deputy chairman of the House, Harivanshji has been chairman of several committees of Rajya Sabha. As chairman of several such committees, Harivanshji has improved the functioning of the committees and effectively highlighted their role.

I had also said last time that Harivanshi has always been on a mission as to what should be the conduct of a parliamentarian being a journalist. After becoming a parliamentarian, he made a lot of efforts to make all MPs more conscientious in their conduct.

Mr. Chairman Sir, Harivanshji is equally active as an intellectual and thinker along with his parliamentary business and responsibilities. He still visits places in the country. He creates awareness among common people regarding India’s economic, social, strategic and political challenges. The journalist and writer in him is still intact. His book closely highlights the life of our former Prime Minister Shri Chandrashekharji, and also demonstrates Harivanshji’s writing prowess. I and all the members of this House are fortunate that we will continue to be guided by Harivanshji as a deputy chairperson.

Respected Chairman, this Upper House of Parliament has embarked on a journey by holding more than 250 sessions. This journey is proof of our mature democracy. Once again, many many best wishes to Harivanshji for this important and huge responsibility. You remain healthy and discharge your duties according to the expectations of the Upper House by maintaining a healthy atmosphere. My best wishes to Manoj Jhaji also for giving a challenge to Harivanshji. The process of election is also important for the dignity of democracy. Our Bihar has been the land of democratic ethos. I am confident that Harivanshji will enhance the tradition of Vaishali, the glory of Bihar, and the ideals through this House.

I thank all the honourable members of the House for taking part in this election process. Once again, many congratulations to Harivanshji and all the members.

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