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Ex- Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu Calls For Strengthening Anti-Defection Law

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NEW DELHI, April 23: Former vice president M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday said parties should be discouraged from promising freebies without adequate resources to back their assurances and also called for strengthening the anti-defection law to check the “disturbing trend” of frequent party-hopping by leaders.

Speaking at a get-together function at his residence here after receiving the Padma award, Naidu said announcing “freebies” during elections without listing out funds mobilisation is an unhealthy trend which should be discouraged and people should question the leaders and parties making such lofty promises.

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He said that he felt humbled and gratified on being conferred Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honour in India.

“This recognition of my humble contribution to the nation strengthens my resolve to serve society with renewed vigour,” the former vice-president observed.

Naidu was awarded Padma Vibhushan on Monday evening by President Droupadi Murmu at a function at Rashtrapati Bhawan.

“Defections are being encouraged. We should strengthen the anti-defection law,” he asserted.

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“Now, the worry is that there is a fall in the standards in public life. In politics, people often change their parties. The latest trend is people are in one party in the morning and join another party in the evening and then they criticise your leader and say things left and right. Some of them are favoured with tickets also.

“This is a very disturbing trend and people should avoid it. People should work at parties and prove their credentials. If anybody wants to change parties, one should resign from the post given by that party and then only join another party. One can understand making accusations, but what is happening is not accusing but abusing,” Naidu said.

He said another unhealthy trend is that people are making promises left and right, without considering where the money will come from, as there is no money. People should also question parties which were clueless on resources, but made empty promises to acquire power, he said.

“Political parties must come out with a manifesto and secondly, should come out with schemes supported by the financial health of the state and third, how they are going to mobilise resources and then spend whatever they want to,” the former vice president said.

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He wondered how it was possible to give everything for free as “money does not come from trees”. But then some of the leaders and parties are making promises left and right even when the financial health of the state is weak, he observed.

Naidu said even when the financial burden of lakhs of crores of rupees is there on states, everything is being promised for free.

“I am against freebies. I am in favour of two things — education and health should be given free. Make education and health free, you can avoid all others. They are not doing that,” he lamented.

“This sort of promises and freebies should be discouraged and political parties should question how you are going to mobilise resources. Manifesto and resource mobilisation and financial health of the state should be presented to the people,” he said.

Deploring the steep decline in standards of public life, the former vice president said people were increasingly abusing their political rivals and using vulgar language, rather than indulging in healthy criticism. He described this as an unfortunate development and appealed to the voters to reject such candidates who use vulgar language and are known to be openly corrupt.

Parties should present alternative policies instead of accusing others, he said.

Narrating his recent meeting with a religious saint who migrated from Andhra Pradesh to Tamil Nadu, he said though he had Muslim origins he sang Ram bhajans every morning.

Observing that culture is a way of living and religion is a way of worship, he said, “Rama is a cultural embodiment of the state, he is not a religious person. Rama is an ideal human being, a great ruler, a great father, and a great son, who led an ideal human life. We must lead a life like him and try to follow his ideals.”

Naidu said he has maintained high values in politics and recalled how he strove to maintain the dignity and decorum of the Rajya Sabha as its chairman. He advised parliamentarians to debate, discuss, and decide and not disrupt the proceedings of the House. MPs rushing into the Well of the House was not a sign of a healthy democracy, the former Rajya Sabha chairman said.

Naidu reminisced that the highlight of his tenure as Presiding Officer of the Upper House was the introduction and enactment of the Bill on the abrogation of Article 370. “The results are there for all to see. Today, Kashmir is a haven of peace attracting tourists and investment,” Naidu remarked.

The former Vice President of India observed that the country is on the rise and that several major western powers could not digest this extraordinary growth of our nation. India’s development trajectory is unstoppable, he said.

“But at the same time, they cannot ignore India and they have to maintain a relationship with India. India can never be ignored in the present situation.

“We are the world’s largest democracy and we must make efforts to make it the healthiest and ideal democracy, for that all political parties must ensure this,” he noted. (PTI)

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