NEW DELHI: Ruling NDA nominee and JD(U) member Harivansh was today elected as Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, securing 125 votes as against 105 polled by opposition candidate B K Hariprasad.
The post of the deputy chairman was lying vacant since the retirement of P J Kurien on July 1.
The entire House congratulated Harivansh, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulating him on his election and, in a lighter vein, saying “ab sub kuch ‘Hari Bharose’. Aur mujhe vishwas hai ke sabhi, idhar ho ya udhar, sabhi sansadon per Hari Kripa bani rahegi (everything is now in the hands of Hari or God. And I am confident that every member, whether on this side or that side, will have his mercy).”
Leader of the House Arun Jaitley and Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad also led the felicitations.
The nomination of Harivansh was proposed by Ram Prasad Singh and seconded by union minister and RPI member Ramdas Athawale. BJP President Amit Shah, Shiv Sena’s Ranjay Raut and Akali Dal’s Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa were also among the proposers.
The voting was carried out the second time as some members pointed out mistakes in the first polling. Result displayed for the first voting was “122 ayes, 98 noes, 2 abstain. Total: 222.
However, the final vote count was 125 votes in favour of Harivansh, 105 for Hariprasad along with two abstentions.
In his speech, the Prime Minister said the election was such that “dono taraf Hari the, ek ke aage B K tha, B K Hari, koi na beeke, aur ek ke aage koi B K, V K nahi tha (both sides had Hari, but there was ‘B K’ (Hariprasad) on one side, while the other did not have such initials.”
Soon after the election result was announced by Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, Jaitley, Azad and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar accompanied Harivansh to the seat designated for the Deputy Chairman in the House, which is next to that of the Leader of Opposition.
Jaitley, who is recuperating after a renal transplant, attended the house after a long gap. Modi, Azad and several other MPs also welcomed Jaitley for attending the House after the transplant. Azad advised Jaitley to take some more rest.
Speaking on the occasion, Modi spoke of the achievements of Harivansh, a journalist for about four decades.
Hoping that Harivansh would do justice to all members of the House, Modi in a lighter vein said the situation in the House is such that the umpire faces more problems than the players.
Modi said Harivansh was offered a job by the Reserve Bank of India but he did not take it.
He said while the outcome of the election was known, yet there was a contest as per the procedures and the new members got a training on how to vote in the House.
Noting that the nation was today also marking the anniversary of the Quit India Movement, Modi said that Harivansh hailed from Ballia, a place which has been linked with to the freedom struggle right from the 1857 war of independence.
The Prime Minister said Harivansh was inspired by Loknayak Jaya Prakash Narayan and recalled that he had also worked with former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar.
Citing an incident, he said Harivansh “knew in advance” that Chandra Shekhar would resign, “but did not let his own newspaper have access to this news. This shows his commitment to ethics and public service.”
Modi also congratulated B K Hariprasad for being a part of the election for Deputy Chairperson of Rajya Sabha and thanked the Chairman and all members for smooth conduct of the election.
Naidu in his welcome remarks said Harivansh makes constructive suggestions in the meetings of the Business Advisory Committee and his suggestions and interventions were clearly driven by his commitment to enable smooth functioning of the House.
“If some of your find me being emotional at times about the functioning of the House, I can assure you that Shri Harivansh is calm, cool and smiling all the time. These traits should help Shri Harivansh ji in discharging his new responsibility as Deputy Chairman of this august House effectively,” Naidu said.
Earlier, Leader of Opposition Azad hoped that the new Deputy Chairman would give enough opportunity to the opposition members to raise their issues.
He said Harivansh has done a lot of work for promotion of Hindi language.
Jaitley said Harivansh had never made any personal attack on anyone and hoped that, as Deputy Chairman, he would further improve the discourse in the House.
He said his research on every issue was complete and hoped he would enhance the dignity of the House. He also hoped that he would maintain the necessary balance between government business and the opposition raising issues of public importance.
Welcoming the new deputy chairman, Chairman Naidu expressed confidence that he will live up to the expectations of the House.
Harivansh later presided over the proceedings of the House and was applauded with thumping of desks by members.
Soon thereafter, he adjourned the House for lunch.
Later in lighter vein, some members including TDP’s Y S Chowdhary and Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut said the Chairman was like a “strict headmaster” and the members would now get “some relief” with Harivansh being elected his deputy.
TMC’s Derek O’Brien congratulated both Harivansh and Hariprasad, saying both the “batsmen have scored centuries”.
Leaders of various parties also felicitated Harivansh for his election and hoped he would take care of every section of the House.
Among those who spoke were Ram Gopal Yadav (SP), Prasanna Acharya (BJD), Sharad Pawar (NCP), Ram Chandra Prasad Singh (JD-U), TK Rangarajan (CPI-M), Satish Chandra Mishra (BSP), Tiruchi Siva (DMK), Vijaysai Reddy (YSRCP), SS Dhindsa (SAD) and D Raja (CPI).
Source: Press Trust of India