An Emotional PM Modi Bids Adieu to Ghulam Nabi Azad in Rajya Sabha

PM Modi recalled a terror attack when Azad was the CM of J&K and he was the CM of Gujarat. 

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India
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Video Producer: Shohini Bose
Video Editor: Deepthi Ramdas

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had an emotional moment in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, 9 February, as he bid farewell to Congress MP Ghulam Nabi Azad, calling him a “true friend.”

PM Modi said that the Opposition leader who will replace Azad will “have difficulty matching his work because he (Azad) was not only concerned about his party but also about the country and the House.”

“Posts come, high office comes, power comes and how to handle these, one must learn from Ghulam Nabi Azad ji. I would consider him a true friend,” PM Modi said.

Heaping praise and accolades on the veteran Congress leader, PM Modi recalled a terror attack from when Azad was the CM of Jammu and Kashmir and he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.

“Terrorists attacked and eight people of Gujarat were killed. The first call I received was from Ghulam Nabi ji. That call was not only to inform me of the incident, but one of concern, like a family member. His tears were not stopping on the phone. ” PM Modi said.

"That time Pranab Mukherjee was the defence minister and requested for Indian Air Force jet for transporting the body. He said that don't worry, we will figure out something. But, Ghulam Nabi called me again. He was at the airport," the PM said, reported NDTV.

"He sounded concerned like people are concerned about their own family members. That is the kind of feeling he showed," said the PM in an emotional moment.

“Azad has set very high standards as MP and Opposition leader. His work will inspire generations of MPs to come,” PM Modi said.

He further said that Azad has distinguished himself in Parliament. “He not only worried about his party but also had similar passion towards the smooth running of the House and towards India’s development.”

"During the early days of COVID-19, I met floor leaders; Azad called and suggested that I should meet all the party leaders. I followed his advice. He has had experience of both ruling and being in the Opposition," stated PM Modi.

"Years ago, when I came to the Parliament for some work, I was not active in electoral politics. We were chatting in the lobby. Journalists got curious. Azad ji gave an apt reply: 'You may have seen us fighting on TV and streets but in this complex we are all one,” PM Modi said.

"We have been very close, there has not been an occasion when we have not been in touch," he added.

“I have known Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad for years. We were chief ministers together. We had interacted even before I became CM, when Azad Sahab was very much in active politics. He has a passion not many know about – gardening,” added the PM.

"As a friend, I respect him as a tall leader. His desire to work for this country will never let him sit idle. Whatever responsibility he is given, he will add value to it. I thank him for his contributions. Personally, I would request that he never think that he is not a Member of the House. My doors are open to all four of you to come and give suggestions to me," PM Modi said.

There are three other MPs who retired on Tuesday – Nazir Ahmed Laway and Mohammad Fayaz from the PDP, and Shamsher Singh from the BJP, noted India Today.

"History has taken a turn and the four members of J&K are a part of it," the PM said.

"Not a single Session has gone by when Mir Mohammad and Nazir Ahmed have not discussed issues with me in my chamber. Sometimes, they came with their families. The kind of information and insight they provided was unique, their commitment and ability will be useful to the country and to J&K,” PM Modi stated.

“We bid farewell to Rajya Sabha MPs who have played a vital role in the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha. I recall my numerous interactions with Shri Nazir Ahmed Laway and Shri Mohammad Fayaz. Their passion towards Jammu and Kashmir’s progress is noteworthy,” PM Modi added.

"I have known Shamsher Singh for decades. I do not even remember the years now, we have travelled together on a scooter. Shamsher was among the people who were jailed during the Emergency. His attendance in the Rajya Sabha is 96 percent," PM Modi said.

‘I Feel Proud That We Are Hindustani Muslims’: Ghulam Nabi Azad

“When I was a college student in Jammu and Kashmir, both 14 August and 15 August used to be celebrated. The majority used to celebrate 14 August. I am among those fortunate people who never went to Pakistan. When I read about the conditions in Pakistan, I feel proud that we are Hindustani Muslims. We are seeing that Muslim countries are fighting amongst each other, there are no Hindus there or Christians,” ANI quoted Ghulam Nabi Azad as saying in his retirement speech.

"I got the chance to be here, in the Parliament, because of Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi," he said, adding, "Indira ji used to say, 'remain in touch with Atal ji, not BJP'."

“When Atal ji was the Leader of Opposition, I was the Parliamentary Affairs Minister and we did not have a majority. But those were the five easiest years for running the House. I learnt from Atal ji how to be an efficient Leader of Opposition,” Azad added.

"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 while wiping his tears.

"You never felt that it was a personal attack on you when I performed my role as Leader of Opposition and gave long speeches," he added while thanking the Chairperson and the PM.

"Two people would necessarily wish me for Eid, Diwali or my birthday – the Congress president and the PM," Azad further said.

(With inputs from ANI, The Hindu NDTV and India Today)

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