From slamming Owaisi to voicing virtues of secularism, Javed Akhtar’s farewell speech in Rajya Sabha

Retiring as Rajya Sabha member, noted film personality Javed Akhtar today said "adjournaments” and "polarisation” will not take the country forward as he pleaded with the Opposition and government to work together without thinking about the next elections.
Akhtar, who was nominated to the Upper House by the UPA government, said there are capable leaders in the Modi government who can do good work but those making extremist comments, including some ministers, need to be reined in.
"I hope both Opposition and the government will work together. Adjournments will not take us forward. Even polarisation will not take us forward. Please forget next election and think about the country,” he said in his impassioned speech which was heard with rapt attention and intercepted by thumping of desks by members across party lines.
A proud Indian, the film lyricist slammed, in a veiled manner, AIMIM leader and MP Asaddudin Owaisi for saying he will not chant ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ because the Constitution does not ask him to do so.
Taking objection to Owaisi’s remark, Akhtar said, "the Constitution even does not ask him to wear sherwani (dress) and topi (cap)… I don’t care to know whether saying ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ is my duty or not, it is my right.”
He then chanted ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ a number of times.
At the same time, he condemned those right-wing extremists also who say Muslims should go to Pakistan. He also said that these days "fringe” elements are rising and emphasised the need to protect securalism to save democracy and the Constitution. Hailing the essence of India’s deep-rooted democracy, he said it must be preserved at any cost while learning from the fate of those countries where one religion was given importance, an apparent reference to Pakistan. Underlining that there cannot be democracy without secularism, Akhtar said protecting secularism is not about protecting one community or the other. "We need to protect secularism because there cannot be democracy without it. I believe this is our greatest achievement.”


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