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Praise for Nehru, ‘sweet & sour experiences’


New Delhi: Praising Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Monday that “the echo” of his ‘Tryst with Destiny’ speech “will continue to inspire” the country. Modi, while opening the discussion on 75 years of the old Parliament building in the Lok Sabha, also recalled Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s 1996 speech: “Sarkare aayengi, jaayengi, partiyan banengi, bigdengi; magar ye desh rehna chahiye (governments will come and go, so will parties, but this country must remain intact).”

Modi spoke at length about the legacy of the old Parliament building and said the historic structure will continue to inspire future generations.

“There have been sweet and sour experiences, there has also been an atmosphere of bickering, and sometimes an atmosphere of conflict and sometimes, an atmosphere of joy. All these memories are our shared memories… our shared heritage and hence, its glory also belongs to all of us,” said Modi, who spoke for over an hour.

“From Rajendra Prasad to Ram Nath Kovind to Droupadi Murmu, this Parliament received their guidance. This Parliament also witnessed the time of Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri to Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh who gave direction to this country,” he said.

Modi in his speech also referred to the representation and contribution of women MPs in parliamentary proceedings and said that “around 600 women MPs have enhanced the dignity of both Houses” of Parliament since Independence.

Terming the ongoing session an occasion to remember those who have been part of Parliament’s historic journey, Modi also highlighted the “unprecedented” success of the Chandrayaan-3 mission, besides India’s handling of the G20 presidency.

“Credit for the success of the G20 (leaders’ summit) goes to 140 crore Indians. It is the success of Bharat. It is not a success of an individual or a political party,” he said. The Prime Minister added, “Many people have a tendency to be suspicious about India, and this has continued since Independence; this time too, they were confident that there would be no (G20) declaration. However, it was because of India’s strength that it happened.”

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Legacy of old Parliament building

“Before Independence, this House was the seat of the Imperial Legislative Council. After Independence, it became Parliament House. It is true that the decision to construct this building was taken by foreign rulers but the hard work and money that went into its construction was of my countrymen,” Modi said, referring to the building’s origin.

“This is the House where Pandit ji (Nehru) will be remembered for many things, but we will definitely remember that, in this House, the echo of Pandit Nehru’s stroke of midnight (speech)… will continue to inspire us all,” he said.

The Prime Minister also spoke about Dr B.R. Ambedkar’s role as a member of Nehru’s first Council of Ministers. “He (Ambedkar) used to insist on bringing the world’s best practices to India. Baba Saheb laid great emphasis on incorporating international suggestions in factory law. Its result… Today, the country is reaping its benefits. Baba Saheb gave the country a water policy during Nehru ji‘s government,” he said. 

He added that Ambedkar “used to say industrialisation is very important for social justice in India because Dalits and those from backward classes do not have any land”. Syama Prasad Mookerjee, who was a minister in Nehru’s Cabinet, took note of this and introduced industrial policy, he said. “No matter how many industrial policies are made, even today, its soul remains the same as during the tenure of the first government,” said Modi.

The old Parliament building, he added, will also remember Indira Gandhi’s leadership that resulted in the formation of Bangladesh, along with how democracy came under attack during the Emergency. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh also found mention in Modi’s speech when he reminded the Lok Sabha of the ‘cash-for-votes’ scam.

‘Strength of India’s democracy’

Referring to the formation of three new states during Vajpayee’s tenure as prime minister, Modi said this exercise was celebrated in both the new state and the state from which it was carved out, except in the case of Telangana.

“When Chhattisgarh was created, Chhattisgarh celebrated and so did Madhya Pradesh. When Uttarakhand was created, Uttarakhand celebrated and so did Uttar Pradesh and when Jharkhand was created, Jharkhand celebrated and so did Bihar. This is the ability of our Parliament to create an environment of consensus,” the Prime Minister said.

He, however, said that the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh for the creation of Telangana led to ‘bloodshed’. “A lot of blood was spilt… After the formation of Telangana, neither Telangana nor Andhra Pradesh celebrated, the seeds of bitterness were sown,” he said.

Speaking about the attack on Parliament in 2001, the Prime Minister said it was not just an attack on a building but an attack on the soul of India.

And in a reference to legislative decisions taken during his tenure, Modi said the old Parliament building witnessed “many historic decisions”.

“The House will always say proudly that (abrogation of) Article 370 was possible because of it. GST was also passed here. For the first time in the country, 10 percent reservation for economically weaker sections was successfully allowed without any controversy,” he said.

Modi in his speech also spoke about his experience on his first day as a Member of Parliament. “When I first entered this building as an MP, I bowed down before this temple of democracy. It was an emotional moment for me. I could never have imagined that a child from a poor family, living on a railway platform could ever enter Parliament. But this is the strength of India’s democracy,” he said.

We might be shifting to the new building but this building will keep on inspiring the coming generation. As it is a golden chapter of the journey of Indian democracy”, he said.

While addressing the media ahead of the special session, the Prime Minister had said earlier in the day that the new Parliament building will “witness historic decisions”.

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

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