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On Parliament disruptions, new RS Deputy Chairman Harivansh hopes to ‘find a way out’

Stressing on the fact that people often followed parliamentarians, Harivansh said they should lead by example and also urged them to follow Gandhian principles citing how he had set 10-12 points of conduct for all who followed him.

During his maiden speech as Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman, Harivansh Narayan Singh on Thursday expressed both hope and confidence that differences between parties during sessions in Upper House would be ironed out through constructive debates and all members will work together in accordance with principles of Gandhi and Jai Prakash Narayan to ensure smooth functioning of the House.

“Treading on rules and procedures framed by our Constitution makers, we can lead the country to greatness…There would be differences in debates, there would be different opinions…We can find out a way,” the journalist-turned-politician said.

“I got this opportunity to be here…I am frightened, surrounded by so many experienced people but this is my strength too as you all will guide me and I assure you I will run the House in a fair and decent manner,” he added.

The Janata Dal (United) member said after becoming an MP, he was faced with a “Yaksha Prashna” (complex question) when students at a university in Ara (Bihar) wanted to know “why don’t we follow discipline, decorum, decency, and dignity and run Parliament like them (West if we adopted their model)”. They also asked why the rich Indian tradition of high-standard debates was rejected while citing examples of Shankracharya and Vedic sage Ashtavakra who went alone to Janak’s Durbar.

The newly-elected deputy chairman of Upper House said he considered this as “Yaksha Prashna” but the answers lie in a Gita shloka that says: “For whatever a great man does that very thing other men also do; whatever standard he sets up, the generality of men follow the same.”

Harivansh also stressed on the need for parliamentarians to lead by example

Stressing on the fact that people often followed parliamentarians, Harivansh said they should lead by example and also urged them to follow Gandhian principles citing how he had set 10-12 points of conduct for all who followed him.

Harivansh also cited Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan’s refusal to take up the demand of road and basic infrastructure of his village to concerned authorities by saying, “If I do this for my village; what about 5.5 lakh other such villages?”

“JP’s response is still alive in my memory. He said yes if I say work will happen but if it happens in my village and 5.5 lakh other villages are deprived, what answer will I give to them? Our grooming was done in this decent atmosphere,” he said.

While thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah, Leader of the Opposition, Ghulam Nabi Azad and others for getting him elected to the post, he said he had never envisioned that he will be the deputy chairman in the House in Lutyen’s Delhi as he hailed from a village between two mighty rivers- Ganga and Ghagra – where during floods, people thought this was the last night or day of their life.

“I studied below a tree … from an ordinary primary school … My journey to Lutyen’s Delhi or elite’s Delhi was possible due to each one of you. The foundation of social awareness was laid … there was no road in the village to commute … We used to be confined to our homes during floods… People used to carry the sick on a charpoy for 15 km distances … We saw electricity many years later… We started our journey with earthen lamps,” he said.

He said it was after 40 years of working, including 37 years of journalism, that he was here. Quoting Dr Radhakrishnan, “We will try to do within our power to justify to the public of this country that a second chamber is essential to prevent hasty legislation.”

As soon as his speech was over, Chairman Venkaiah Naidu invited him to conduct the proceedings and Harivansh adjourned the House till 2 pm.

Later, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and members passed on their wishes to him in the House.

Harivansh got elected as the Deputy Chairman after getting 125 votes as against opposition’s BK Hariprasad who polled 105 in the House with a majority mark of 119. The election was necessitated after former Deputy Chairperson and Congress leader PJ Kurien retired from the House on July 1.

Before being elected to the Upper House, Harivansh’s only stint in politics was during the tenure of former PM Chandra Shekhar, who chose him as a political adviser.

(With PTI inputs)

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