In his opening remarks on the first day of a special session that will see Parliament move to a new facility, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday praised “historic decisions,” including his government’s contentious actions on Article 370, the GST, and the “One Rank-One Pension” measures.
The Prime Minister also recalled “bitter-sweet memories” connected to the old building, including the terror assault of 2001, in a protracted address that included numerous digs at the opposition, including a quip about the “cash for votes” scam under the Manmohan Singh administration.
“The House will always say proudly that (the abrogation of) Article 370 became possible due to it… GST was also passed here… ‘One Rank-One Pension’ was witnessed (and) 10 per cent reservation for Economically Weaker Sections was successfully allowed for the first time without dispute,” he said.
“Bidding goodbye to this building is an emotional moment…many bitter-sweet memories associated with it. We had differences and disputes but we witnessed ‘parivaar bhaav’ (‘feeling of family’),” he continued as MPs from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party thumped their desks in agreement.
“There was a terror attack (on Parliament). This was not an attack on a building…. in a way, it was an attack on the ‘Mother of Democracy’… on our living soul. The country can never forget that incident,” he said as he paid tribute to security personnel who were killed in that attack.
The phrase “Mother of Democracy” was repeated in materials sent to G20 leaders and international dignitaries during the meeting in Delhi earlier this month.
Most historians think that the idea (and even the name) of democracy originated in the ancient city-state of Athens, which is now the capital of Greece, circa 500 BC. Many pointed out that the labelling of India as such had raised eyebrows at the time and that it was an honour generally reserved for Greece.
The PM recalled his early memories of the previous Parliament building while also striking nostalgic notes.
When I first entered… as an MP… I bowed down and honoured the ‘Temple of Democracy. It was an emotional moment… I could have never imagined a child from a poor family, living on the railway platform, would ever be able to enter Parliament. I never imagined I would get so much love…”
“All of us are saying goodbye to this historic building. Before Independence, this was the place for the Imperial Legislative Council. After Independence, this gained the identity of Parliament. It is true the decision to construct this building was taken by foreign rulers but we can proudly say the toil, hard work and money that went into the construction was that of (our) countrymen.”
The Prime Minister also praised the Chandrayaan-3 Moon mission and said India had “made the world proud… highlighted a new form of India’s strength”. He also spoke about the success of the G20 Summit and attributed it to ” 140 crore citizens… not any individual or party”.
“Today… you have unanimously appreciated the success of G20. I express my gratitude to you. The success of G20 success is that of 140 crore citizens of the country. It is India’s success (and) not that of an individual or a party. It is a matter for all of us to celebrate,” the Prime Minister said.
“India will be proud the African Union became a member (of the G20) when it was President… I cannot forget the emotional moment when the announcement was made… (the) African Union President (Azali Assoumani, President of Comoros) said, ‘Perhaps I will break down while speaking’.”
The negotiation of the unified communique from G20 leaders, according to the Prime Minister, highlighted India’s strength and status in the international community. He also made reference to the historic Delhi Declaration.
The Delhi Declaration was viewed as practically unachievable up until a few hours before it was officially issued because of difficulties brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the West’s position on the conflict.
“You can imagine (role) India had to fulfil… such huge hopes and expectations. It (was) India’s strength that (made) it (the declaration) possible,” Prime Minister Modi declared
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