Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday asked lawmakers and legislatures to follow Indian values and send a message to citizens through their conduct about giving primacy to one's duties, terming it as the mantra to speed up India's development.
Addressing the inaugural session of the 82nd All India Presiding Officers' Conference virtually, he also pitched for 'One Nation-One Legislative Platform', saying such a portal can not only give the necessary technological boost to the parliamentary system but also work to connect all the democratic units of the country.
A similar view was echoed by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla in his speech calling for one set of rules and procedures for all legislative bodies in the country. "Next 25 years are very important for India. During this, can we with full strength, dedication and response execute one mantra? In my view that mantra is duty, duty and duty," the prime minister said.
He called for collective efforts, including from states, to take the country to new heights of progress and cited the fight against COVID-19 as a "historic" example of 'sabka prayas' (everyone's effort). The prime minister also asserted that it is the legislatures' responsibility to be vigilant about any discordant voice about the country's unity and integrity. "It is our unity that preserves our diversity," he added.
With Parliament often witnessing disruptions over a variety of issues, Modi said the conduct of lawmakers should be in line with Indian values. Traditions and systems of the Houses should be inherently Indian, he said.
"Our policies and laws should strengthen the spirit of Indianness, the resolve of 'Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat'. Most importantly, our own conduct in the house should be according to Indian values. It is the responsibility of all of us," the prime minister said.
He also mooted the idea of having a separate time in legislatures for quality and healthy debates that should be serious, dignified and devoid of political potshots at others. In a way, it should be a "healthy time" for a House, he said.
The prime minister also said that democracy is not merely a system for India but it is its nature and urged Parliament and state legislatures and their members to give "top priority" to their duties in their words, conduct and work which will impact citizens nationwide.
In the thousands of years of development, people have come to realise that in the midst of diversity, flows the grand, divine and unbroken stream of unity, and this unbroken stream of unity nourishes and preserves our diversity, he said.
Noting that lawmakers are associated mostly with politics, Modi proposed that a few days in a year be demarcated in legislatures for them to tell the country about their experiences of working with the society and added that it would be a learning exercise for all.
Addressing the gathering, Birla expressed concern about the decrease in the sittings of the legislatures and discussions over bills and said some decisive steps are needed to be taken by consulting all political parties. Birla also stressed the need for developing a model document suggesting a set of uniform rules and procedures for all legislative bodies in the country.
Calling for reviewing the rules and procedures, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh cited the case of assurances given by the executive pending for about three decades in various legislative bodies and termed them as empty promises.
He also questioned whether such provisions are required in the legislative bodies which don't have legal backing. Harivansh also pitched for a sunset clause in the laws when they are being introduced in the legislature as draft regulation.
The All India Presiding Officers' Conference (AIPOC), the apex body of the Legislatures in India, is celebrating its 100th year in 2021. To commemorate the centennial year, the conference is being held in Shimla on November 17-18. The first conference was also held in Shimla in 1921.
- With PTI Inputs