Excerpts from Prime Minister Modi's speech (edited) on the first day of the Special session of Parliament:
"The moment I became a Member of Parliament for the first time and entered this building as a Member of Parliament, I bowed my head in reverence at the doors of this temple of democracy and stepped in with deep respect for this democracy. That moment was filled with emotions for me, and I couldn't have imagined it. But it is a testament to the strength of Bharat's democracy, a symbol of the reverence of an ordinary human being in Bharat for democracy, that a child from a humble family who grew up on a railway platform has reached the Parliament. I had never even imagined that the country would honour me so much, bless me so much, and love me so much.
"Many of us do read what is inscribed inside the Parliament building, and sometimes we even mention it. Here, at the entrance of the Parliament building, there is a word from Changdev’s teachings, which reads, ‘Lokadwaram’ which means "Open the door for the public." It signifies that we should open the doors for the public and see how they obtain their rights. This has been written by our sages and is inscribed at the entrance doors of Parliament. All of us, and those who have been here before us, bear witness to this truth.
MPs standing for the National Anthem
"As time changed, the structure of our Parliament has also continuously evolved and become more inclusive. In this Parliament, representatives from every section of society, filled with diversities, are visible. There are multiple languages, dialects, and culinary traditions present here. Inside the Parliament, everything is present, and people from all walks of life, whether social or economic, rural or urban, have gradually expressed the desires and aspirations of the masses in a fully inclusive environment. Whether one is Dalit, oppressed, tribal, marginalized, or a woman, everyone's contribution has gradually increased over time.
"In the beginning, the number of women was very less, but slowly, mothers and sisters have also contributed to enhancing the dignity of this House. Their contribution has played a significant role in bringing about a significant change in the prestige of this House.
"From the beginning till now, a rough estimate shows that about 7,500 representatives have contributed in both houses combined over the years. During this period, about 600 women MPs have also contributed to enhancing the dignity of both houses in Parliament.
"As we know that respected Indrajit Gupta, if I'm not mistaken, served in this House for a long time, approximately 43 years. He had the privilege of being a witness to this House for an extended period. This is the very House where Shafiqur Rahman ji continued to contribute to the proceedings despite being 93 years old. This is the strength of Bharat's democracy that Chandrani Murmu became a member of this House at the age of just 25. She was the youngest member, just 25 years old.
"All of us have experienced disagreements, disputes, and exchanged sharp words – we all have initiated them and nobody can be singled out. Perhaps despite all of that, the familial sentiment that exists among us, which has persisted in our previous generations as well, those who perceive our public personas through the media and see us outside, still holds true. The sense of belonging, the sense of family, brings us to a different level. This is also the strength of this House. A sense of family, and despite differences, we never hold grudges. Even after many years, if we meet, we meet with the same warmth, we don't forget that affectionate time. I can feel that.
Dedication of MPs
"Despite facing numerous crises, both in the past and present, we have seen many times that Members of Parliament have come to the House and fulfilled their duty as representatives, even in the face of physical suffering or inconvenience. Many such instances are before us today. Despite serious illnesses, some have had to come in wheelchairs, and some had to come with doctors waiting outside, but all Members of Parliament have at some point fulfilled their roles in this manner.
"The Corona period serves as an example before us. While the risk of death loomed in every household, despite that, our Hon’ble Members of Parliament in both Houses came to the Parliament during the Corona crisis and fulfilled their duty. We did not let the nation's work stop. We needed to maintain social distancing and undergo frequent testing. We came to the House but had to wear masks. The seating arrangement was different, and even the timings changed. With a sense of duty, all members of this House have considered it an integral part of their responsibility. They kept the Parliament running so that the nation’s work was not stopped. I have seen that members have a special attachment to this House. People who may have been MPs thirty years ago or even thirty five years ago, but still, they will visit the Central Hall. Just as visiting a temple becomes a habit, similarly, they have developed a habit of coming to this House. There is an emotional connection, and many old-timers, even if they no longer are a Member of Parliament, still, feel an attachment to this House.
"After independence, many eminent scholars had expressed deep concerns. They weren't sure about the fate of the country, whether it would succeed or fail, whether it would remain united or disintegrate, whether democracy would thrive or falter. But the strength of Bharat's Parliament silenced all doubts and proved the world wrong. This nation continued to progress with full capability. With the belief that we might have concerns and face challenges, but we will continue to achieve success, we, along with our predecessors, have demonstrated this commitment. This is an occasion to celebrate this achievement.
"In this very building, the Constituent Assembly met for two years and eleven months. They provided us with the Constitution that still guides us today. The Constitution we received on 26th November 1949 came into effect on 26th January 1950. In these 75 years, the greatest achievement is the growing trust of the common people of this country in our Parliament. The biggest strength of democracy lies in the unshakable faith of the people in this great institution, this noble institution, and this system. In these 75 years, our Parliament has become a symbol of expressing public sentiments. Here, the strong expression of public sentiments is seen, and we have benefited from the addresses of leaders like Rajendra Babu, Dr. Kalam, Ram Nath Kovind ji, and recently, from the address of Droupadi Murmuji. Their guidance has been invaluable to both houses of our Parliament.
Prime Minister greeting India's sprint queen and MP P T Usha
All the Prime Ministers
"From Pandit Nehruji, Shastriji, to Atalji, and Manmohan ji, there is a long line of leaders who have led this august House and have guided the nation through this House. They have worked diligently and put in immense effort to shape the country in new hues. Today is also an occasion to pay tribute to all of them.
"Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Lohia ji, Chandrashekhar ji, Advani ji, and countless other names have enriched this House. They have worked in this House to empower the voice of common people, enriching discussions, and giving strength to ordinary individuals in the country. Many world leaders have also addressed our Houses, and their words have shown respect for Bharat's democracy.
"Amidst moments of excitement and enthusiasm, tears have also flowed from the eyes of this House. This House was filled with sorrow when the nation lost three of its Prime Ministers during their respective tenures. This House was bidding farewell to Nehru ji, Shastri ji, and Indira ji with moistened eyes.
"Despite numerous challenges, every Speaker and every Chairman has effectively led both Houses and made exemplary decisions during their tenures. Whether it started with Mavalankar ji, during Sumitra ji's term, or Birla ji's, their decisions are still considered as reference points. This work has been carried out by nearly 17 Speakers, including our two female Speakers, from Mavalankar ji to Sumitra Tai and Birla ji. Each one of them had their distinct style, but they all worked together to keep this House energetic while adhering to the rules and regulations. Today, I extend my heartfelt greetings to all of these Hon’ble Speakers.
"It's true that we, as public representatives, play our respective roles. However, the teams that work behind the scenes to support us have also evolved over the years. Their contributions, often running with papers to ensure that there are no mistakes in the proceedings and decisions, have been invaluable. Their work has greatly contributed to the quality of governance in this House. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all my colleagues, including those who served before us. The Parliament is not just limited to these chambers; it encompasses the entire surroundings. Many people here have contributed in various ways, from offering tea or water to preventing anyone from going hungry, providing various services when the Houses worked till late in night. Some have taken care of the environment outside, others have ensured cleanliness. Countless individuals have worked diligently to make it possible for all of us to work efficiently. I express my special appreciation for their efforts, both personally and on behalf of this House.
"This temple of democracy... a terrorist attack happened. Unlike attacks on buildings worldwide, this attack was on the 'mother of democracy,' in a way, an assault on our very soul. Our nation can never forget that incident. I also pay my respects to those who fought against terrorists and took bullets on their chests to save the Parliament, and ensure every member's safety. They may not be among us, but they performed a great service by defending us.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi shaking hands with Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge
"As we are preparing to leave this House today, I also want to remember those journalist friends who dedicated their entire careers to reporting on the Parliament. They were, in a way, living witnesses. They conveyed minute details from here to the nation, and back then, we didn't have all the technology that is available now. They were the ones who provided information and had the ability to provide news behind the news. They may not be sought-after, but nobody can forget their work. I've seen that journalism, which helped the nation understand the developmental journey of Bharat from this Parliament building, and they spent all their energy for it. Even today, I meet old journalist friends who covered Parliament in the past but share stories that are astonishing, but real. It's like the strength that the walls of this House have; the same mirror effect is found in their pens, which carry the reflection of Parliament's importance, its members, and an empathetic feeling towards Parliamentarians.
"This is the House where once Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt displayed their bravery and strength by exploding a bomb to oppose British colonial rule. The echoes of that bomb have never let those who want the best for our nation rest.
Tryst with Midnight
"This is the House where Pandit Nehru is remembered for various reasons, but we will always remember him. In this very House, Pandit Nehru's 'At the Stroke of Midnight' speech will continue to inspire us. And in this same House, Atal ji once said 'Governments will come and go, parties will be formed and dissolved, but this nation must remain’ and his words continue to resonate here.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with BJP MPs
"Pandit Nehru's initial cabinet included Babasaheb Ambedkar, who served as a minister. He emphasized incorporating international standards into Indian labour laws, which has had a significant impact on the country. Additionally, Babasaheb played a crucial role in formulating the water policy during Nehru ji's government. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s contributions to shaping that water policy have been vital for Bharat.
"Babasaheb Ambedkar consistently emphasized the importance of industrialization for social justice in Bharat. He believed that industrialization was crucial because many marginalized communities, especially the Dalits, did not have access to land, and thus, industrialization was necessary to uplift them. Babasaheb’s vision influenced the Industry Policy of Bharat, particularly during the tenure of Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee, who served as the Commerce and Industry Minister in Pandit Nehru's government. Even today, no matter how many industry policies are made, its soul remains the same which was given by the first government which has left a lasting impact on the country's industrial development.
"Lal Bahadur Shastri ji inspired the morale of our country's soldiers during the 1965 war and instilled complete confidence in their abilities, a source of national pride, right from this very House. It was right here that Lal Bahadur Shastri ji laid a strong foundation for the Green Revolution.
"This very House also played a crucial role in supporting the Bangladesh Liberation War and extending its backing under the leadership of Indira Gandhi. This House also witnessed an assault on democracy during the Emergency, and also witnessed the strength demonstrated by the people of Bharat which led to the restoration of a robust democracy. It has seen the national crisis of that period and also witnessed the resilience of the nation.
Rural Development Ministry
"This House will always remain indebted to the fact that it was within these walls that our former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh established the Rural Development Ministry. It was in this House that the decision to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 was made, inspiring and motivating the country's youth to contribute. Our nation has witnessed coalition governments led by leaders like V.P. Singh, Chandrashekhar, and a series of coalition governments after that. For a long time, the country was heading in one direction, burdened by economic policies. However, the government of Narasimha Rao mustered courage and decided to abandon old economic policies and embark on a new path, which the country is reaping the benefits today.
"We have also seen the government of Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji in this House. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has become crucial for our country today. Atal ji established the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, and the Ministry of Northeast. The nuclear tests introduced Bharat's capability to the world. And it was in this House that we witnessed Manmohan ji's government and the Cash for Votes scandal.
"The mantra of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas', many historic decisions, and issues pending for decades, have all found permanent solutions in this House. Article 370 - this House will always say with pride that it happened during its tenure. One Nation, One Tax - the decision on GST was also made in this House. One Rank One Pension (OROP) was also witnessed by this House. 10% reservation for the economically weaker sections was introduced in this country without any dispute.
Test of Democracy
In Bharat's democracy, we have witnessed numerous ups and downs, and this House has been the strength of democracy, a witness to the power of democracy, and a central point of public trust. Look at the uniqueness of this House; even today, the world is amazed that in this House, there were times when a party with only 4 members was in power, and another party with 100 members was in opposition. This is also a kind of capability. This House introduces the strength of democracy. This is the House where Atal ji's government was defeated with just one vote, and it elevated the dignity of democracy; this too happened in this House. Today, the representation of many small regional parties in our country's democracy has become an attractive center for our country's diversity and aspirations.
In this country, we had two Prime Ministers, Morarji Desai and V.P. Singh, who spent their life in the Congress, but led anti-Congress governments. This was also its uniqueness. And look at our Narasimha Rao ji, who was preparing to return home, had announced his retirement, but this is the strength of democracy, that he served as Prime Minister for 5 years.
"We have seen that even the most challenging tasks can be accomplished with everyone's consensus. In the year 2000, during Atal ji's government, this House approved the formation of three new states with great enthusiasm and excitement. When Chhattisgarh was formed, it was celebrated by both Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. When Uttarakhand was formed, it was celebrated by both Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. When Jharkhand was formed, it was celebrated by both Bihar and Jharkhand. This is the capacity of our House to create a consensus and a celebratory atmosphere. But there are also some bitter memories. There were efforts to suppress Telangana's rights, even blood was shed. Now, after its formation, neither Telangana nor Andhra Pradesh could celebrate. The seeds of bitterness had been sown. It would have been better if we had formed Telangana with the same enthusiasm and excitement, and it would have reached new heights today.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeting members of Parliament
Sacrifices by Members
"Such has been the tradition of this House that the Constituent Assembly members at that time reduced their daily allowance from 45 rupees to 40 rupees because they felt that we should reduce it.
"This is the same House where the subsidy provided in the canteen, which used to offer food at a very low cost, was discontinued by its members. Now, they pay the full amount and eat in the canteen.
"During the Corona pandemic, when the need arose, these Members of Parliament gave up their MPLADS (Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme) funds and came forward to help the country in this crisis. Not only that, during the Corona period, the MPs from this House also voluntarily took a 30% cut in their salaries and discharged a significant responsibility in facing the challenges before the country.
"We can proudly say and even the people sitting in this House can say, and those who were part of the previous sessions can also say that it was us who brought discipline here, who enforced strictness in our representation laws, who set the rules, and who decided that certain things could not happen in the life of a representative. I believe this is a great example of a vibrant democracy given by this House. It's the Hon’ble Members of Parliament and our previous generations of MPs who have set this example. I believe that sometimes we should remember those things as well.
Past and Future
"For those of us who are current Members of Parliament, this is indeed a special opportunity. It is a special opportunity because we have the chance to become a part of both history and the future. We have the opportunity to connect with both the past and the present. With a new belief, new enthusiasm, and new energy, we are bidding farewell from here, ready to build the future.
"The day today belongs exclusively to the seven and a half thousand Members of this House. It is a page of their illustrious journey. We take inspiration from these walls, and are ready to embrace the future. Many things within this House deserved appreciation from each and every member, yet politics seems to be encroaching there as well. If the pride of Nehru's contributions were to be acknowledged within this House, who would not feel like applauding? Nevertheless, despite this, it is essential for the country's democracy that we, under your guidance, Mr. Speaker, and with the capabilities of these experienced MPs, will enter the new Parliament with new confidence.
"I once again thank all of you for providing an opportunity to refresh these old memories, and for remembering everyone in such a great atmosphere. I express my heartfelt gratitude to all of you. I urge all members to share such fond memories of their lives here so that they reach the nation and convey that this truly is our House, and that our representatives are genuinely committed to the nation. With this sentiment, I once again offer my salutations to this land, to this House. I bow to every brick of this building, which is built from the sweat of Bharat's labourers. I salute every teacher and that cosmic force which has given new strength and power to Bharat's democracy in the past 75 years."