New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday got emotional in parliament while delivering a farewell speech to a rival politician and veteran Congress leader, Ghulam Nabi Azad.
PM Modi lauded the opposition leader who sat across him in the Rajya Sabha, and got choked with emotions as he shared an episode when they were both Chief Ministers – of Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir.
“I have known Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad for years. We were Chief Ministers together. We had interacted even before I became Chief Minister, when Azad Sahab was very much in active politics. He has a passion not many know about – gardening,” PM Modi said.
PM Modi also recalled a terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir that had killed eight people in the state. Azad was the first to call him to inform him about the incident. The Prime Minister remembered how much Azad was disturbed by the incident that his tears would not stop.
“I will never forget Shri Azad’s efforts and Pranab Mukherjee’s efforts when people from Gujarat were stuck in Kashmir due to a terror attack. That night…Ghulam Nabi Ji called me…,” he recalled, fighting tears, and paused for water.
“He sounded concerned like people are concerned about their own family members. That is the kind of feeling he showed.” As Modi stopped to put himself togather, there was loud desk-thumping in the upper house.
“Power comes and goes. But how to handle it…,” PM Modi again broke down and saluted him, letting that gesture speak more than words. “That was a very emotional moment for me.”
Addressing Mr Azad, whose Rajya Sabha term ends on February 15, Modi said, “I would not let you retire, I will continue taking your advice. My doors are always open for you.”
Calling the opposition leader a “true friend”, Modi remarked that he was a tough act to follow. “The person who will replace Ghulam Nabi ji as Leader of Opposition will have difficulty matching his work because he was not only concerned about his party but also about the country and the House,” he said.
The PM’s emotional tribute comes a day after he praised Mr Azad for his words on Jammu and Kashmir and local polls conducted recently. At the same time, Modi had also took a dig at Mr Azad’s party leadership that had left the Parliament in spilts. “Ghulam Nabi ji always speaks decently, never uses foul language. We should learn this from him, I respect him for it. He praised elections held in J&K, but I am concerned. I believe your party will take it in right spirit and not make the mistake of doing the opposite by taking it as the view of the G-23,” the Modi quipped, referring to a group of 23 in the Congress who wrote to party chief Sonia Gandhi last year demanding sweeping changes in the organization. Azad was also among these letter writers.