Thursday, Sep 29, 2022

‘Political Parties Must Rise Above Partisan Politics’: Outgoing President Ram Nath Kovind

President Ram Nath Kovind said political parties must rise above partisan politics and deliberate on what is essential for the citizens' development and welfare with the spirit of ‘nation first’.

President Ram Nath Kovind.(File photo) PTI

Outgoing President Ram Nath Kovind Saturday asked parties to shun partisan politics to deliberate on what is essential for people's welfare with the spirit of "nation first" and said citizens should use Gandhian means to express opposition and pursue demands.

In his address at the farewell function organised by the parliamentarians for him at Parliament's Central Hall, the President described Parliament as the "temple of democracy" where MPs reflect the will of the people who elect them.

He likened the Indian parliamentary system to a big family and emphasised the values of peace, harmony and dialogue to resolve all "family differences".

Citizens have constitutional rights to convey their opposition and apply pressure in support of their demands but they should use their rights peacefully using Gandhian means, he added.

In his message to political parties, he said,"as in any family, Parliament has at times differences and different political parties may have different views on the way forward. But we are all members of this parliamentary family whose top priority is to work continuously in the interest of the giant family which is our nation."

His comments assume significance at a time when parliamentary proceedings have been frequently disrupted due to the Opposition's vocal protests over a number of issues in both Houses of Parliament. Different parts of the country have also witnessed protests, at times violent, at different points of time.

Political parties and people have many constitutional means to express their opposition, he said, noting that Mahatma Gandhi had used peace and non-violence to achieve his goals while also respecting the other side.

Noting that political parties have their own systems and political process, he said, "parties must rise above partisan politics and deliberate on what is essential for the citizens' development and welfare with the spirit of ‘nation first’."

Article 79 of our Constitution envisions a Parliament consisting of the President and the two Houses., and in keeping with this, he looks at the position of President as an integral part of the parliamentary family, he said.

His remarks were welcomed with frequent applause by the audience which included Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Speaker Om Birla besides ministers and other MPs.

He expressed thanks to PM Modi, his Council of Ministers and other MPs and said their cooperation helped him in discharging his duties. He also thanked Vice President Naidu and Birla for the way they have conducted the proceedings of Parliament and continued its great traditions. The Vice President is also the chairman of Rajya Sabha.

According to a Rashtrapati Bhavan statement, Kovind will address the nation on Sunday.

Kovind, who came from the Scheduled Castes community and rose from a humble background to the highest constitutional position, cited the government's programmes to mark Gandhi's 150th anniversary and the ongoing 'Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav' as two "historic" developments during his five-year-long tenure.

The 'Swachh Bharat' ((clean India) has had "transformative" results, he said, describing it as a true tribute to Gandhi from the government and citizens.
Kovind said he always considered himself a part of the larger family, which included the members of parliament.

President-Elect Droupadi Murmu will take oath as the 15th President of India on Monday. She will be the first tribal person to occupy the country's highest constitutional post.

Congratulating Murmu, Kovind said the country will benefit from her guidance.

In his address, he said efforts of various governments have brought a lot of development but it must be accepted that much more remains to be done to raise the living standards of the marginalised. The country has been, slowly but surely, realising the dreams of B R Ambedkar, the architect of the constitution.

He said he grew up in a mud house but far fewer children have to live in thatched houses with leaking roofs now. "More and more poor people have been shifting to pucca houses, partly with the direct support from the government. Our sisters and daughters walking miles to fetch drinking water is becoming a thing of the past because it is our endeavour that every house gets water from the tap," he added.

Memories of lighting up lanterns and diyas after sunset are also fading as almost all villages have finally been provided with electricity connections, Kovind said.

With the basic necessities of people met, their aspirations are changing too, he said. "The dreams of average Indians have got wings now. This has been made possible by good governance, which by definition is without any kind of discrimination. This all-around progress is in tune with what Babasaheb Ambedkar had visualised," he added.

In a reference to the Covid outbreak, he said the world is still struggling with its ill effects, but added the pandemic has also offered many lessons, including that humans are neither above nature nor separate from it.

He lauded the efforts leading to the administration of over 200 crore vaccine doses in 18 months and the distribution of free rations to 80 crore people.

He said he will always be grateful to the citizens of the country for giving him the opportunity to serve as President.

In his speech, Birla said Kovind's address in Parliament reflects his vision, deep understanding of political and social issues and his clear thought process towards their solution.

His addresses to MPs inspired all political parties alike, Birla said.

This is why Kovind received the full support of leaders of all parties and all MPs see him as the guardian of constitutional values and ideals, the Lok Sabha speaker said.

(With PTI inputs)