By Vijay Darda | 15-02-2021
Ghulam Nabi Azad and Prime Minister Modi’s speeches in Rajya Sabha displayed the highest level of parliamentary maturity
My friendship with Ghulam Nabi Azad might be some three decades old and the biggest reason for this closeness is his charming personality. Another major reason is his preoccupation with the development of the country. Ghulam Nabi Azad, who once led the state like Jammu and Kashmir, is the only leader whom the people of the entire country look upon with affection and respect. This is why he has been representing different regions of the country. He has also represented the Yavatmal-Washim parliamentary constituency. In fact, Indira ji had assigned him to my father freedom fighter Jawaharlal ji Darda alias Babuji to groom and get him elected so that he could enter the Parliament. Babuji also fulfilled Indira ji’s expectations. This is the beauty of India that language, religion or any other difference
does not matter here.
Most politicians dealing with politics on Kashmir issue speak in a measured tone but Azad’s voice was always free from any bias. He strongly opposed the terrorists on every occasion and his tears on the plight of Kashmiri Pandits never stopped to flow. Prime Minister Narendra Modi rightly said that the person who will get into the shoes of Azad as the Leader of Opposition will have a hard time in matching the grit and stature of Ghulam Nabi ji.
I fully agree with Prime Minister Narendra Modi that no one else can be like Ghulam Nabi Azad! I have had a long association with him in the Rajya Sabha. I understand the depths of his thought and emotion. The whole of India including Kashmir resides in his heart. His official residence in New Delhi has been characterised by the fragrance of various flowers. It also has a tulip from Kashmir and colourful plants collected from all over the country. From the point of view of gardening, his bungalow presents a picture of the whole of India. Whenever I got a chance to interact with him, I realised that his heart only beats for the betterment of this country. In his address he also proudly said that he considered himself lucky that he never went to Pakistan. He is proud to be an Indian Muslim.
Actually Ghulam Nabi Azad is one of the few leaders who never used religion for politics. Apart from being the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, he was elected to the Rajya Sabha five times and twice to the Lok Sabha. His tenure was quite eventful and noncontroversial. He was always a favourite of leaders of other political parties. But his allegiance to the Congress was never questioned. He appreciated every person who tried to strengthen Indian politics and parliamentary tradition. In his farewell address, he mentioned Atal Bihari Vajpayee and described how he had helped to run the House in the minority government of Congress. He said, “I learnt from Atal ji how easy it is to solve any issue.”
It was natural that everyone should become emotional on the occasion of the farewell of a person with such a magnanimous personality. Anyway, such occasions are full of sweet memories. The occasion of the farewell of any member is like bidding adieu to the daughter at the time of marriage. I also had the same feeling on the occasion of farewell after 18 years of parliamentary term. That time, I did not think whether I would be able to come back here or not! I felt saddened because I was going to miss the parliamentary ambience. There, the atmosphere is like that of a harmonious family. Even if there is a verbal duel inside the Parliament; and it should also be there, but in the Central Hall, there is all bonhomie and harmony.
While bidding farewell to Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Prime Minister became so emotional that tears welled up in his eyes. He narrated some instances and Ghulam Nabi folded both his hands in a rare gesture and it seemed that both of them were tied by an unseen bond of affection. All political differences were set aside and both of them presented the vision of parliamentary maturity.
Unfortunately, these days the dark shadow of negativity has taken hold of politics. We no longer hear two parliamentarians appreciating each other anywhere; on the other hand, they leave no stone unturned to drag each other in the mud. Now, look at the latest example only! No sooner did the Prime Minister praise Azad than a rumour had circulated that Ghulam Nabi Azad was on way to join the BJP? I know that this rumour is completely baseless. His loyalty to the Congress can never be questioned, but it is the politics of today that instinctively raises such questions. Maybe we have forgotten those old days when the politics of our country used to be very much above party feelings. People still remember the fact that when young Atal Bihari Vajpayee reached the House, the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was so impressed with him that he started motivating him to speak more and more. Nowadays, strategies are designed on how to silence the Opposition. Lohia ji and many people like him were staunch critics of Nehru but Nehru listened to them. With the passage of time, all those conventions have weakened. The need of the hour is to re-establish the sanctity of politics. After all, the main agenda of every political party is and should be the development and progress of the country, making the life of the common man easier. When everyone has an agenda, why should they conduct themselves against each other like enemies? The voter of this country does not like such vile politics. Therefore, it is very important that political parties treat each other with affection and respect, even if their ideology is different. If only the affection and respect for each other flowed in the country, no power in the world could ride roughshod over us. We all have the same slogan ..Jai Hind!