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New Delhi  : The Vice President of India M Venkaiah Naidu on July 27, 2019, said that the stalling the functioning of the Parliament and Legislatures was tantamount to subverting democracy and betraying people. Speaking after presenting ‘Democracy Awards’ at a function organised by the Maharashtra State Election Commission in Mumbai, Naidu, the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha,  said that he was deeply distressed by the behavior of some sections in the Rajya Sabha during the last two years.

The Vice President is pained when members disregard rules and conventions leading to pandemonium in the House. The members of the Rajya Sabha have a special responsibility to lead by example. If MPs and MLAs resort to slogan-shouting and disrupting the proceedings, they would be rendering a disservice to Parliamentary democracy, he added.

Expressing his anguish over the objectionable comments made by a member of the Lok Sabha about a woman presiding officer, Naidu said it was not in our culture to disrespect women. Such behaviour would demean our Parliamentary democracy, he added. Stating that the ruling and opposition parties should not treat each other as enemies or adversaries, the Vice President said that respecting the mandate of the people and allowing the governments of the day to deliver as per the mandate must be an essential principle of functioning of legislatures.

Observing that both ruling and opposition parties have a shared responsibility in ensuring effective functioning of the Parliament and legislatures, Naidu urged them to adopt a spirit of mutual respect and accommodation. The Vice President stressed that democracy was all about debate, discussion, and decision and they cannot be replaced by disorder, disruption and delay in legislation “which is nothing but a negation of the spirit of democracy”.

Naidu said the ruling and opposition parties should  function as joint stakeholders in the well being of the people and socio-economic transformation of the country. “Our nation needs both effective and responsible governments and opposition. Country’s interests are not well served if either of them is found wanting,” he said.

“As the Presiding Officer of Rajya Sabha, I have always insisted that opposition should be allowed its say in all aspects of the functioning of the House. That is the only way we can make our parliamentary democracy more meaningful,” the Vice President said.

On the devolution of powers to local bodies as mandated by the 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments, he said that even though 26 years have lapsed since they were constitutionally empowered, the devolution seems to be less than satisfactory. The Vice President urged all the States to review the progress made on transferring 29 subjects to them and added  that any further delay would tantamount to violating the constitutional mandate.

Stressing the need for devolving adequate funds, functions and functionaries—three Fs—to empower the Panchayati Raj bodies, Naidu said democracy would be more meaningful and robust when people participate in their own affairs. He underscored the importance of 5 “D”s : 1) Discuss 2) Debate 3) Decision 4) Decentralization 5) Delivery, in making democracy successful.

Referring to the 150th birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi Ji this year, Naidu reminded that Gandhi Ji was the biggest votary of decentralization of powers and believed that every village has to be responsible for its own affairs.  Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis, State Election Commissioner, Maharashtra, J S Saharia and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

The Vice President presented Democracy Awards to 15 recipients in different categories, according to a PIB release.

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