Prime Minister Narendra Modi became emotional during the budget session in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday while bidding adieu to Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is retiring from the House on February 15.
The Prime Minister recalled the contribution of the senior Congress leader to the country and said that his successor will have a “difficult time matching his work”.
“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.
Teary-eyed, PM Modi shared an episode when they were both Chief Ministers of Gujarat and Jammu & 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.
While referring to a 2006 terror attack in J&K on visitors from Gujarat, PM Modi said Azad was the first one to call him and inform him of the incident, adding that the veteran Congress leader’s tears wouldn’t 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 the Prime Minister stopped to gather himself, there was loud desk-thumping.
“Power comes and goes. But how to handle it…,” PM Modi broke off again and saluted him, letting that gesture speak more than words.
“That was a very emotional moment for me.”
Replying to PM Modi, Azad said – “We sparred in the House, we had long arguments, but you never let it affect personal bonds.”
“Two people always greeted me during festivals – Congress president Sonia Gandhi and PM Modi,” he added.
The next Budget session is scheduled for March 8 next month.