Rajya Sabha bids emotional farewell to Hamid Ansari

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Hamid Ansari
Hamid Ansari

New Delhi : Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised the diplomatic insights of Vice President Hamid Ansari, a career diplomat, as Rajya Sabha members lavishly lauded him and bid an emotional farewell to the outgoing Chairman whose term ended on Thursday.

As Ansari chaired the Rajya Sabha on the last day of his second term, members cutting across party lines praised how he conducted the House for a decade, upholding constitutional and parliamentary values.

Modi said Ansari was leaving behind "great memories" and his "contributions have been important".

"You have been a career diplomat, what it means I got to know when I became the Prime Minister. Observing you I saw mannerisms of a career diplomat.

"Your diplomatic insights were invaluable, especially when I discussed with you before and after my bilateral visits. I appreciate your insights. I am grateful to you and your talent in leading the way for the nation," Modi said.

The Prime Minister also praised the 80-year-old who he said had kept himself "physically fit".

Congress leader Manmohan Singh recalled how during his term as the Prime Minister he received "maximum guidance and cooperation" from Ansari.

He recited an Urdu couplet -- "kuchh baat hai ki hasti mit ti nahi hamari; sadiyon raha hai dushman daur-e-zaman hamara" -- to note how India keeps going despite many challenges. Manmohan Singh said this was "largely because people of your statesmanship have guided India".

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, also the leader of the House, said it was "a nostalgic occasion" to bid farewell to Ansari "after completing 10 years as a very distinguished chairperson of this House".

"You had experiences in various fields of public life. But dealing with the political fraternity was a different experience all together," Jaitley said, praising how well Ansari did the job which "is very challenging and thankless for the reasons that this House unlike in the 1950s and 1960s now has a changed character".

The Minister fondly recalled how once, angry over disruptions, Ansari called the House a "federation of anarchists" and how it triggered a debate on whether the term anarchist could be used for the House.

Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad also wished Ansari said he was grateful to the "best" Chairman the Rajya Sabha has had.

"You have been running sessions with diplomacy. You are a sportsman too. Now I think you will have time to play golf. I wish Allah gives you a long life," Azad said.

CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said he was finding it difficult to accept that Ansari's term had come to an end. "As you are leaving, the only regret I have is that we are still not settled. I wish you continue to share your wisdom with us even after leaving this House."

Derek O' Brien of the Trinamool Congress shared certain "nuggets" about Ansari that perhaps all in the House did not know. 

"For example, like how you do yoga every morning and go for a walk every evening. It makes you look so young. My colleagues would be surprised to know that you have not had lunch for the last 40 years... and probably that keeps you so fit. He was a No.5 batsman, a wicket keeper also," O' Brien said.

Tiruchi Selva, a DMK MP, said while Ansari was being praised for his various attributes as a politician, as a Chairman, as a sportsman, he as an individual wanted to say thank you as "we have learned a lot from you".

"I had the opportunity to travel abroad with you where I saw a different dimension of you - your magnanimity, tolerance and humility. You were concerned about the country. You have given simple solutions to bigger issues. It is not an exaggeration to appreciate you. Something that I learned from the north Indian members here, 'Kabhie alvida naa kehna'."

Ansari has served as India's ambassador to several countries and was India's Permanent Representative to the UN. He has also been Vice Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University.