NEW DELHI: Outgoing President Ram Nath Kovind Saturday asked citizens to use Gandhian means to express opposition and pursue demands, and said parties should shun partisan politics to deliberate on what is necessary for people's welfare by keeping in mind that the nation is supreme.
In his farewell address to parliamentarians at Parliament's Central Hall, the President likened the Indian parliamentary system to a big family and emphasised on the values of peace, harmony and dialogue to resolve all ''family differences''.
Citizens have constitutional rights to convey their opposition and apply pressure in support of their demands but they should use their rights peacefully using Gandhian means, he said. In his message to political parties, he said, ''As in any family, Parliament has at times differences and different political parties may have different views on the way forward. But we are all members of this parliamentary family whose top priority is to work continuously in the interest of the giant family which is our nation.'' His comments assume significance at a time when parliamentary proceedings have been frequently disrupted due to the Opposition's vocal protests over a number of issues in both Houses of Parliament. Different parts of the country have also witnessed protests, at times violent, at different points of time.
Political parties and people have many constitutional means to express their opposition, he said, noting that Mahatma Gandhi had used peace and non-violence to achieve his goals while also respecting the other side. Noting that political parties have their own systems and political process, he said, ''Parties should rise above partisan politics and deliberate on what is necessary for the citizens' development and welfare while keeping in mind that the nation is supreme.'' His remarks were welcomed with frequent applause by the audience which included Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Speaker Om Birla besides ministers and other MPs.
Kovind, who came from the Scheduled Castes community and rose from a humble background to the highest constitutional position, cited the government's programmes to mark Gandhi's 150th anniversary and the ongoing 'Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav' as two ''historic'' developments during his five-year long tenure.
The 'Swachh Bharat' ((clean India) has had ''transformative'' results, he said, describing it as a true tribute to Gandhi from the government and citizens. Kovind said he always considered himself as a part of the larger family, which included the members of parliament. President-Elect Droupadi Murmu will take oath as the 15th President of India on Monday. She will be the first tribal person to occupy the country's highest constitutional post. Kovind congratulated Murmu and said the country will benefit from her guidance.
In a reference to the Covid outbreak, he said the world is still struggling with its ill-effects, but added the pandemic has also offered many lessons, including that humans are neither above nature nor separate from it. He lauded the efforts leading to the administration of over 200 crore vaccine doses in 18 months and the distribution of free ration to 80 crore people.
He said he will always be grateful to the citizens of country for giving him the opportunity to serve as president.