Bidding farewell to the Leader of Opposition and Congress's Ghulam Nabi Azad on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a moment filled with emotions and tenderness said that he won't let his "true friend" retire and will continue taking his advice.
Azad will be retiring from his post of a Rajya Sabha member on February 15, along with three other members of the Upper House of the Parliament, including Nazir Ahmed Laway, Mohammad Fayaz and Shamsher Singh Manhas, everyone belonging to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Will 'never forget' him
It was a rare moment to see the Prime Minister getting emotional and shedding tears on the floor, while he eulogized Azad's traits.
His throat choked and was forced to pause his speech in between. Only after drinking a few sips of water, Modi continued, "Power comes and goes but (only a few know) how to digest it...therefore like a friend, I respect him on the basis of the things he has done over these years."
Modi stressed further he believes that Azad's concern for his country won't let him sit and whatever responsibilities he takes in the future would be beneficial for the nation.
Wiping his tears and saluting the veteran Congress leader, Modi said, "At a personal level, I would request him to not believe that he is not in the House. My door is always open for all of you. I will always expect and value your inputs."
"I will not let you become weak," the Prime Minister said in conclusion of his statement.
Next will have difficulty in matching him
Modi said that he has known Azad since before he became J&K chief minister in 2005 and applauded the leader's efforts in rescuing people from Gujarat who were stuck in Kashmir due to a terror attack.
"..he sounded as concerned as if those stuck were his own family members," Modi said in his speech.
Hailing Azad's legacy and his contribution as a Rajya Sabha member, the Prime Minister said that the person who will replace "Ghulam Nabi Ji as the next 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".
Lastly, Modi thanked him for his contribution towards the country and wished him goodluck for his future endeavours as a "friend." The Prime Minister added that his "doors will always remain open for him" and he will "always value" his suggestions on political matters.
"Ghulam Nabi Azad has a zeal to do something for this country and that will always make him do things. He will add value to every place he goes," Modi added.
According to Mint reports, several names of veteran politicians such as P Chidambaram, Anand Sharma, Digvijaya Singh have cropped up who will supposedly be a replacement to Azad in the Rajya Sabha.