New Delhi, August 11 (IANS): Newly sworn-in Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Friday said that he is above party politics and is an all-party man now, but also told the opposition that they may have a say when laws are debated but the government will finally have its way as it has the mandate.
“I will no longer talk about parties, which parties supported me, which did not. That is over. Now, I am an all-party man, above party politics…I will fulfill expectations about neutrality,” Naidu said in his first speech as the Rajya Sabha Chairman.
“The ruling party has the power, but opposition must at least have its say. But at the end of the day, democracy says that opposition must have its say and the government must have its way because it is as per the mandate of the people and we must respect the mandate of people,” he said.
Naidu said politicians must not look at each other as enemies but as “rivals” in their common endeavour of “working hard to strengthen the country and help people”.
On the point of not passing a bill in din — as mentioned by several opposition leaders – he said: “Some of the members have suggested the tradition of not passing a bill in din should be continued. I hope that there wouldn’t be scope for such a situation. No din, and then no passage of a bill in din. Both can go together.
“Democracy is not about numbers but to understand and appreciate each others’ point of view. We must debate, discuss, decide and deliver.”
He said that the best way of enforcing accountability of the executive by the opposition is to “engage the government and corner them in an informed debate”.
“Let the government propose, let the opposition oppose, let the House dispose. That is the way forward,” he said.
Naidu, 68, earlier took oath as India’s 13th Vice President, succeeding Hamid Ansari, who finished his decade-long two terms as Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman on Thursday.
Asking the members to use the time judiciously, Naidu said that he would be “more than happy” to extend the time of the sittings of the House.
He urged the media to “focus more on constructive debates” than “sensationalism, negativism, controversies and dramatics”, which he said many members felt was the case.
“You report what is happening here. But at the same time report what is being constructively debated. That is the sacred duty of the media. Mere sensationalism alone is not going to (take us anywhere),” Naidu said.
Naidu recalled his “humble background” coming from a peasant’s family “without a dynasty”. He credited his political success to the “might” and “beauty” of the Indian Constitution.
“I would like to assure you that it shall be my endeavour to uphold the dignity of the office of Vice president of India, Chairman of Rjya Sabha and live upto the trust you have reposed in me,” he said.
Naidu’s experience will help to run RS effectively: Jaitley
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday welcomed Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu as Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, and said that his experience as a member of the Upper House would help in its effective functioning.
“With close to 20 years of experience as a member of this House, you have the honour of presiding over it. Since you have been a long member, you obviously know the tradition, the culture and the functional style of this House,” Jaitley said, addressing Naidu in the Rajya Sabha.
Naidu on Friday took over charge from M. Hamid Ansari whose second term as Vice President ended on Thursday.
President Ram Nath Kovind earlier in the day administered the oath of office to the new Vice President at Rashtrapati Bhavan here.
Jaitley said there have been times when the relevance of Parliament has been pushed into the background. “It’s a good principle of not passing bills in a day. This principle has been strictly adhered to post 2014. Prior to 2014, there was no such principle.”
Noting that Parliament is a legitimate forum where debates and discussions should be held, he said “matters of public interest raised by the opposition or other members must be given adequate time, but there is a balancing act to be performed”.
“Give time to discussions, also leave some time for government business. You (Naidu) will be able to strike a balance between the two. With this kind of balance, we will be able to conduct the House very well,” he added.