“I got a chance to be here in the Parliament because of late Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi and Indiraji used to say, ‘be in touch with Atalji’, not with BJP, he said.
Sharing his experience as Parliamentary Affairs Minister, he said that when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Leader of Opposition, he was the Parliamentary Affairs Minister and his party did not have a majority. But those were the easiest five years for running the House. “I learned from Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji how to be an efficient leader of opposition”, Mr Azad said.
Recounting the period of cyclone in Odisha in 1999, he said that he cried when he saw the bodies scattered all over after the storm and informed Prime Minister Vajpayee and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
His voice choked up while speaking about the terrorist attack on Gujarati tourists in Jammu and Kashmir during his tenure as the Chief Minister. “I did not know what to tell the children of those tourists killed by militants in Kashmir. My wish is to see an end to terrorism in this country.” he said wiping his tears and hoped that the situation of Kashmir will improve soon.
Thanking Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the outgoing leader said, “You never felt that it was a personal attack on you when I performed my role as Leader of Opposition and gave long speeches”. I will be always thankful for your affection and guidance.
Addressing the PM, he said, “During your speeches in the House, I had interrupted in between and commented while performing the role of LoP but you never took it otherwise or personally. You have always differentiated between the personal relation and the party’s responsibility”.
He also expressed his gratitude to all Members who spoke about him and his role as the LoP and specially mentioned about the Deputy Chairman Harivansh with whom he used to share his seat in the first row of the opposition benches. He also thanked the Upper House Secretary General and the Secretariat office.
“Two people would necessarily wish me for Eid, Diwali or birthday- the Congress president and the PM,” Mr Azad recalled and signed off with a couplet “Nahi Yaad Aayegi To Barson Nahi Aayegi, Lekin Jab Yaad Aaoge To Bahut Aaoge.”( You may not be remembered for years but when remembered, You will be remembered a lot).
One of the retiring members Nazir Ahmed Laway of PDP said, “This House needs to do something for Jammu and Kashmir. We have lost a lot...We had only one sector, tourism, which has been destroyed. There will be no representation of Jammu and Kashmir after we leave, therefore, it was responsibility of all of you to raise the issues of the Jammu and Kashmir”.
The other retiring lawmaker Mir Mohammad Fayaz said that he started his career with municipal committee elections. “I never thought I would be in the Rajya Sabha.”
“We work for this country. We have taken the flag of the country to villages. It hurts us when we are called anti-national by the media and others,” Mr. Fayaz said.
He also appealed to the Home Minister to restored the statehood and the special status of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir.
The BJP Member Shamsher Singh Manhas, who was also retiring from the Rajya Sabha, said that the situation was very serious in Jammu and Kashmir and Jammu and Ladakh used to be ignored.
“I come from Kashmir, the mukat mani (crown jewel) of the country, and have worked for this ‘mukut mani’ and will work for it in the future too,” he said. (UNI)