RS departs from protocol, pays tributes to Jaitley

Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu addresses in the Rajya Sabha on the first day of the Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Monday, Nov. 18, 2019. (RSTV/PTI Photo)

In a rare departure from convention, the Rajya Sabha on Monday had a motion of condolence to mourn the death of a sitting member allowing leaders from across the party lines to pay rich tributes to former finance minister Arun Jaitley.

Usually, the Chairman makes an obituary reference in case of a sitting MP who has passed away, and the House is adjourned.

A condolence motion, on which leaders are allowed to speak, is generally reserved for condoling the death of a sitting or past president, prime minister or a prominent chief minister.

However, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu allowed floor leaders to speak after a host of them approached him seeking a chance to speak about Jaitley with whom they shared a close bond.

After the leaders finished speaking, Naidu adjourned the proceedings till 2 pm as a mark of respect to Jaitley and Ram Jethmalani, both sitting members.

The House also condoled the death of former MPs Gurudas Dasgupta, Jagannath Mishra and Sukhdev Singh Libra.

Describing Jaitley as a "quintessential politician" and a "man of impeccable integrity" whose stellar contribution is a matter of record, Naidu said, "destiny has untimely snatched a sagacious leader, a legal luminary and a towering intellectual from our midst... For me, Arunji was an epitome of versatility, a multifaceted genius whose wise counsel and sagacity, I have always relied upon."

"His (Jaitley's) clarity of thought, strength of conviction, effective communication skills and ability to present perspectives made his speeches in the House and public forums memorable. He was a democrat to the core and a consummate strategist, knowing when to take a hard stance and when to be accommodative. This talent combined with his innate and unique ability of offering solutions, without compromising on the basic position, made him the most effective interlocutor of the government, both inside and outside the Parliament," he said.

Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the loss of some persons is not just a loss to the party to which they belong, but to the entire nation and Jaitley was one.

TMC leader Derek O'Brien said that Jaitley was a mentor to many despite having a diagonally opposite political ideology.

Recalling how Jaitley took his comment that the BJP leader was "plantation manager who planted stories" in media sitting in the Parliament, he said, "I, being a very junior parliamentarian as compared to him, thought that he would be very upset with me. Next morning, he saw me and said, 'Hey! You called me a Plantation Manager. That was very funny'".

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