Prime Minister Narendra Modi, bidding farewell to retiring members of the Rajya Sabha, became especially emotional while recalling his memories with Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, saying whoever replaces him will have difficulty living up to 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,” PM Modi said, speaking in the Rajya Sabha.
He said, “I hope that country will benefit from him. I thank him for his service. Your opinion and your suggestion will always be welcomed.”
While recalling his conversation with Azad during a terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir, PM Modi became visibly emotional.
He said, “There was a terrorist attack on pilgrims from Gujarat in Jammu and Kashmir. Ghulam Nabi Azad called me at first. The phone was not for the information, his tears were not stopping. That time Pranab Mukherjee was the defence minister and requested for Indian Air Force jet for transporting the body. He said that don’t worry, we will figure out something. But, Ghulam Nabi called me again. He was at the airport.”
Modi also told the Rajya Sabha, about Azad’s lesser know passions outside of active politics. “I have known Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad for years. We were Chief Ministers together. We had interacted even before I became CM, when Azad Sahab was very much in active politics. He has a passion not many know about – gardening.”
“Posts come, high office comes, power comes and how to handle these, one must learn from Ghulam Nabi Azad Ji. I would consider him a true friend,” he said.
Posts come, high office comes, power comes and how to handle these, one must learn from Ghulam Nabi Azad Ji. I would consider him a true friend: PM @narendramodi— PMO India (@PMOIndia) February 9, 2021
As Azad retires this month, the Congress is already in talks to decide his replacement. Reports suggest that Anand Sharma and Mallikarjun Kharge are the top contenders for the role of Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.