Venkaiah Naidu sworn in as vice president


NEW DELHI, Aug 11: M Venkaiah Naidu, who began his career in politics sticking posters of top Jana Sangh leaders on walls before striding the corridors of power in New Delhi, was today sworn in as the 15th vice president of India.
President Ramnath Kovind administered the oath of office to Naidu, 68, at a brief ceremony in the Durbar Hall of Rashtrapati Bhawan attended by political leaders cutting across party lines.
Wearing his trademark white panche (lungi) and white shirt, Naidu took oath in Hindi in the name of god.
While he is the 15th vice president, he is the 13th person to hold the constitutional post. His predecessor Hamid Ansari and the first vice president S Radhakrishnan had held the post for two consecutive terms.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ex-vice president Ansari, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, BJP veteran L K Advani, several union ministers, governors and chief ministers attended the ceremony.
Modi hailed Naidu's ascension to the post as a tribute to Indian democracy where people could rise from humble backgrounds to the highest constitutional positions.
Joining members of the Rajya Sabha whose chairman Naidu would be as vice president, Modi, who led the felicitations, said he was the first vice president to have been born in independent India.
Lauding Naidu for his long political experience, Modi said he was well-versed with the intricacies of parliamentary procedures and the functioning of the House.
Naidu, soon after taking over as Rajya Sabha chairman on the last day of the Monsoon Session, said the House should debate, discuss and decide on issues but disruptions should be avoided.
He said members belonging to various parties were political rivals but not enemies. "We have to keep this in mind and work together," he said, adding that all members should work to strengthen the country in line with their views and ideologies.
He expressed gratitude that "a humble agriculturist" has been chosen to discharge such an important duty.
Known for his witty one-liners, Naidu said, "After all, the culture of India is agriculture."
Recalling his origins, he said he belonged to a humble background and did not have the support of any "dynasty".
"I lost my parents early in life so much so that I cannot even recall the face of my mother," Naidu said in a voice trembling with emotion.
"I am humbled by the honour," he told members and said the play of numbers was now a thing of the past for him.
"Now I am an all-party man, above party politics," Naidu said.
A son of a farmer, Naidu joined the students movement at the call given by veteran socialist leader Jayaprakash Narayan and has since risen from the ranks to occupy the second highest constitutional position in the country, Modi said, felicitating Naidu. He said issues concerning farmers and the poor have always been dear to his heart.
The rising of people of humble and poor background to the highest constitutional positions in the country is a tribute to Indian democracy and shows its maturity, Modi said.
"All constitutional positions today are occupied by poor or sons of farmers or commoners," he said referring to President Ram Nath Kovind and himself, both of whom also came from modest backgrounds.
Recalling his long association with the new vice president, the prime minister said Naidu has always been sensitive to the needs of rural areas, poor and farmers and his inputs on these issues have been of immense value.
Even as a minister for urban development, he gave more inputs on rural and farmer issues, Modi said, adding that Naidu was the one who gave the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana - a scheme most sought after by the MPs for development of their constituencies.
Modi said Naidu was known for coining acronyms and since he is one who has spent so many years in the Rajya Sabha, there might be an initial discomfort, similar to the one faced by lawyers when one of them becomes a judge.

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