Congress President Shri Mallikarjun Kharge addressed MPs in the Central Hall of the Parliament on September 19, 2023.
Hon’ble Vice President of India, Hon’ble Prime Minister, Hon’ble Speaker of Lok Sabha, Hon’ble leader of the Rajya Sabha, Hon’ble Shri Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury Ji, Hon’ble Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Hon’ble Members of Parliament and all the respected leaders… We have all gathered here today to commemorate the rich legacy of the Parliament of India in this historic Central Hall. When we talk about Indian Parliamentary heritage, the hallowed precincts of this Parliament House and the Central Hall, where we have gathered today, hold a very special significance. The Constitution of India is the bedrock of Indian democratic polity. It is in this very Central Hall that the Constituent Assembly held its sittings from 1946 to 1949 spanning a period of 2 years, 11 months, and 17 days.
Today, we humbly recall the phenomenal contributions made by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India; Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru; the first Prime Minister and architect of Modern India; Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first Home Minister of India; Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Architect of Indian Constitution.
It is also an occasion to recall with gratitude the contributions of Shri G. V. Mavalankar; Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, and also acknowledge the collective contribution by Members of the Constituent Assembly, provisional Parliament, and first and all subsequent Lok Sabhas. This Central Hall was witness to Pandit Nehru’s ‘Tryst with Destiny’ speech on the eve of India’s Independence. And yesterday, the Prime Minister also mentioned this in his speech. I am thankful to you because you remembered this historic speech on yesterday’s occasion.
Sir, during his speech, Pandit Nehru Ji inter alia stated, which I quote: “Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance….” As the clock struck twelve, all the members of the Constituent Assembly took the following pledge: “At this solemn moment when the people of India, through suffering and sacrifice, have secured freedom, I, a member of the Constituent Assembly, do dedicate myself in all humility to the service of India and her people to the end that this ancient land attain her rightful and honoured place in the world and make her full and willing contribution to the promotion of world peace and the welfare of mankind.” These words were spoken on the day of this historic speech of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru Ji.
I wish to emphasize at this juncture that this is all due to the collective and dedicated effort by Parliamentarians, cutting across the Party lines over the past seven and half decades. This rich legacy has formed a strong foundation for India’s growth as a powerful democratic nation. Every nook and corner of the Parliament House has witnessed the evolution of our Parliamentary democracy over the past 75 years. As we bid adieu to the Parliament House and move to the New Parliament Building today, I am overwhelmed with emotions and tinge of pathos. We would, of course, be continuing our Parliamentary duties in the New Parliament Building, but will miss the Parliament House. The success of the institutions lies in upholding constitutional values and ideals. The idea that institutions are sacrosanct and essential for success is a fundamental principle in governance and development.
We should commit ourselves to adhering to and preserving the Constitutional values and parliamentary traditions as the country moves ahead in effectively performing parliamentary duties and in our endeavours for the growth of our nation. To build this country, forgetting our political parties, we should be one to build the nation, to protect the nation, to protect the Constitution, to protect the democracy… this must be our aim. With these words and one quote I will say- “No man can be grateful at the cost of his honour, no woman can be grateful at the cost of her chastity and no nation can be grateful at the cost of its liberty”. So, to protect our liberty, to protect our integrity, we must work altogether. That is the only way to build our nation. Jai Hind!