Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday outgoing Vice President Hamid Ansari will be free to pursue his “core thinking” once he demits office, a day after the latter said Muslims were feeling insecure.
“Maybe there was some uneasiness within you (in the last 10 years). But from now onwards, you will not face that difficulty. You will also feel free and work, think and speak according to your core thinking,” Modi said, reported IANS.
The prime minister also lauded the contribution of Ansari as the chairman of the Rajya Sabha, saying he could maintain a delicate balance in the Upper House because of his "intellectual capability and skills".
He suggested that Ansari should write a book on how the functioning of the Rajya Sabha could be made more effective and the institution "even more credible".
He brought order in the House enabling the government to complete its business and such decisions could help others to understand how to improve its functioning, Modi said at a farewell function in honour of the vice president in Parliament House complex.
Earlier, BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya had criticised the vice president for his comment that there was a sense of insecurity among Muslims and said such a "petty" remark was not expected from someone in his position.
He also wondered if Ansari was looking for "political shelter" after retirement.
"I condemn his comments. He has made political comments as he is retiring. He is still the vice president and such comments do not suit his office's dignity. It seems he is making such comments to find political shelter after retirement," he said.
In an apparent reference to Ansari, Vice President-elect M Venkaiah Naidu rejected as "political propaganda" the view that there is a sense of insecurity among minorities.
Though Naidu did not name anyone, his comments were seen as a response to Ansari's remarks in a TV interview that there was an unease and a sense of insecurity among Muslims, and that "ambience of acceptance" was now under threat.
"Some people are saying minorities are insecure. It is a political propaganda. Compared to the entire world, minorities are more safe and secure in India and they get their due," he told PTI.
At the farewell function, Modi said Ansari could maintain a delicate balance in the House because of his "intellectual capability and skills".
He said in public life several controversies were associated with public figures of which some being true and others false.
But to the best of his knowledge, Ansari faced no controversy in his long public life which was worth emulating, Modi said.
He recalled that Ansari's cousin Brig Mohammad Usman laid down his life while fighting the Pakistan Army and tribal raiders in Jammu and Kashmir in 1948.
The prime minister said farewell ceremonies were meant to help successors learn from the qualities of the person retiring.
He hoped that Naidu, who was amongs those present, would follow the precedent set by Ansari.
Replying to the felicitations, Ansari said he had been rendered speechless by the words of praise for him.
On his tenure as the presiding officer of the Rajya Sabha, he said there were purposeful exchanges in the House that did not result in animosity.
"No one accused me of leaning to one side. I am retiring highly satisfied," he said.
Ansari said as a common citizen, he would go back to the vibrant democracy and watch the institution from a "different angle".
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Deputy Speaker M Thambi Durai, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien, Union ministers including Arun Jaitley and Ananth Kumar, Naidu, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and former prime minister Manmhan Singh were present on the occasion.
Several Rajya Sabha members posed for a group photograph on the last day of Ansari in office.
(With PTI inputs)