Namaste to all of you. I thank you all for attending the 17th All India Whips’ Conference here in Visakhapatnam. Friends, I am very happy to be here to address the concluding session of the two-day 17th All India Whips’ Conference at Visakhapatnam. Friends, there is a need to re-define role of Rajya Sabha and State Legislative Councils. Sometimes, the Governments and Houses of Parliament and State Legislatures are not able to get passed the Bills related to interests of the nation and the people. While thinking about rights and responsibilities of both the Houses, our Constitution makers must not have had imagined about such political situation which the country is facing today. After voting percentage of 80 to 90 per cent, the people expect that the Houses and the Governments will work for their welfare; these institutions will respect the people’s mandate. But sometimes, people’s welfare gets affected due to politics. Generally, the states don’t face such problem but the Centre often has to face this situation. Friends, Indian parliamentary democracy is the strongest parliamentary system of the world. Even after some shortcomings, Indian parliamentary democracy has been performing well for the more than last 6 decades and people’s confidence on this system has further strengthened. Maximum participation of the people in elections, voting percentage of 80 to 90 per cent reflects people’s trust in our democratic system. We have a greater responsibility to keep this confidence and trust intact. It is our duty to protect democratic, constitutional and parliamentary values. The 17th All India Whips’ Conference has deliberated on various issues related to Indian Parliamentary democracy, the largest Parliamentary democracy of the world. Indian democratic system has been a motivation for other countries. It is a matter of pleasure for me that distinguished people, who came from across the country, discussed the agenda for this Conference which included review of recommendation of the 16th All India Whips’ Conference; need for a permanent mechanism regarding salary, allowances of MPs and State Legislators; establishment of Inter-Party Forums in Parliament and State Legislatures to facilitate functioning of Houses and to resolve problematic issues and about MPLAD Scheme. Friends, Parliament and State Legislatures are the biggest temples of democracy, these solemn bodies are custodian of people’s interests and welfare. Parliament and State Assemblies are the highest and most effective constitutional platform to raise, discuss and resolve issues concerned to the common man. People of the country have a lot of expectations from their representatives in Parliament and State Legislatures. It is the duty of elected representatives to work hard to fulfill aspirations of general public. However, public perception about Parliament and State Legislatures is a matter of concern for us. There is a sense that the people of the country are not happy with the functioning of Parliament and State Assemblies. Incidents of illogical disturbance and pandemonium in Parliament and State Legislatures have created some kind of negative feeling regarding politicians. Indian Parliamentary democracy has an important role of the Opposition. Opposition’s voice must be listened to by the ruling dispensation. It is the Government’s responsibility to have communication, cooperation with the Opposition. Discussion, debate, disturbance are part of the Parliamentary democracy. The Opposition is like an alert guard who puts a check on the Government so that those in power can’t ignore people’s interest. The Opposition has every right to raise its voice in the Houses if the Government is not listening to the people’s problems. The Opposition should play a role of “constructive Opposition” and not an “obstructionist Opposition”. The issues concerned to the common people and nation’s progress should not get affected due to political prejudice Illogical disruption in Parliament and State Legislatures not only effects image of these institutions but precious public money is also wasted due to the disturbances. This should be avoided. We have seen in Parliament during last Monsoon Session where the Bills, essential for nation’s growth were blocked due to disturbance. About 77 hours of Rajya Sabha were wasted while more than 34 hours were wasted in Lok Sabha due to disruption during last Monsoon Session. The Bills like Goods and Services Tax (GST) are very important for over-all progress of the country. It is estimated that the GST alone can boost the Indian economic growth rate by 1 to 2 per cent. Our economy is facing loss of thousands of crores of rupees every year due to delay in implementation of the GST. In this context, I appeal to all the political parties to support the GST Bill and other reforms measures initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and become a part of the nation’s development. We should understand that the people of the country elect us and send us to Parliament or State Legislatures so that we can work for their betterment. We should become a road of development and not an obstacle in this path. It is also necessary that people’s mandate must be respected in any situation. Politics should be avoided on the issues which affect the common man the most. We should work with consensus to utilize the maximum Parliament and the State Legislatures sittings to discuss issues concerned to the citizen of the country, to pass crucial Bills. We will have to create a consensus so that maximum sittings of Parliament and State Assemblies and Councils can be ensured. The NDA Government has been working in this regard. All the Parliament sessions convened after formation of our Government have seen high productivity. Each and every minute of Parliament and State Assemblies should be dedicated to people’s welfare. Another area of concern for all of us is regarding discipline of Members in the Houses. Disorderly behavior in Parliament and State Legislatures not only hamper the work of these institutions but also effects image of these supreme bodies. Time has come for us to seriously introspect on these issues. We may have ideological differences, it is good. But this ideological difference should not come into the way of nation’s progress. Here, the role of Chief Whips and Whips of different political parties assumes significance as Chief Whips and Whips of political parties are practically “Floor Managers” of their respective parties. Their role is very crucial to establish a link between their respective parties and Legislatures. Chief Whips’ responsibilities include ensuring attendance of members of their respective parties, listing speakers for participation in various debates/discussions, keeping members informed of developments in the Houses from time to time and also ensuring discipline of their party members. Coordination among the Whips of different political parties is very essential for smooth functioning of the Houses. Friends, the time has come for us to move forward in the direction of reforms regarding Parliament and State Legislatures and functioning of these Houses so that discipline of Members and decorum of the Houses is ensured, sittings of the Houses are increased and credibility and prestige of these institutions is kept intact. I assure you that our Government is committed for this. Friends, the issue of salary and allowances of the MPs and MLAs always has been a matter of public interest. It is also one of the favorite subjects of debates in media. Politicians face criticism regularly on this issue. While deciding our salary and other allowances, we should keep in mind the common man, underprivileged sections of the society. There is also a need for establishment of Inter-Party Forums in Parliament and State Legislatures to facilitate functioning of Houses and to resolve problematic issues. The Governments have responsibilities to work for the society. At the same time we have also a responsibility towards the people. Member of Parliament Local Area Development, MPLAD, and MLAs’ funds is one of the best medium for the Members to do service of the people. There is a need to ensure that each Member of Parliament and State Legislatures utilize their respective funds for betterment of the people. MPs and MLAs’ funds have benefitted the people of local area of the people’s representatives by meeting various development needs such as drinking water facilities, sanitation, education, electricity, health facilities, community centres, roads etc. MPs are allotted Rs 5 crore every year under the MPLAD fund. Several Members have demanded an increase in this fund. There should be further discussions and dialogue on this issue. I hope the recommendations which have come here in this Conference will be examined by Parliament and the State Legislatures. I once again thank you all for your cooperation in this Conference.