He is already a role model for our parliamentarians. To be returned to the House ten consecutive terms from the same constituency in itself is a remarkable feat. To be accepted by the whole House, unopposed as its Deputy-Speaker for the second consecutive term, definitely adds colour to that achievement.

With the humility and simplicity, symbolic of our beautiful island population whose most consistent and authentic spokesperson he has been for more than three decades, Sayeed Saheb has earned a wide circle of friends and admirers within this House. As a Presiding Officer, he has been able to combine the right degree of firmness with flexibility and a high degree of objectivity in dealing with the Members on either side of the Chair, this, as you know, is the most difficult test for a Presiding Officer to pass. This House has indeed been very prudent in its choice.

I wish Shri Sayeedji all the very best.

SHRI P.M. SAYEED (LAKSHADWEEP): Hon. Speaker, hon. Prime Minister, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Leader of the Opposition, Shrimati Sonia Gandhi, leaders of political parties and other hon. Members of the House:

It is a great honour and privilege in being elected a Member of this House, which is the popular Chamber of the largest working democracy in the world. My hearty felicitations to all of you in having been able to secure this honour and privilege.

That I am your unanimous choice for the office of the Deputy-Speaker is a matter of honour for me. That I am your choice for the second time over is doubly so. I feel touched. I feel humble.

Today's political trend in the country is one of inclusiveness. The politics of exclusion appears to me to be behind us. I see inclusiveness in the composition of this House; in the structure of the Government. I see in my election as Deputy-Speaker of the House that the islanders of the country in general and the people of my constituency, Lakshadweep, in particular, are also beneficiaries of this inclusiveness. I take this opportunity to convey to the House the compliments of the people of Lakshadweep; to place on record my gratitude to them but for whose faith in me through ten general elections, I would not have accessed the office of the Deputy-Speaker in repetition.

In my long experience as a Member of this House which has given me interface with Members of the Houses of other countries, I have found that all over the world, parliamentarians are becoming increasingly professional in serving their constituents. Attaching value for the time of the House, facilitating orderly conduct of parliamentary proceedings, display of mutual respect for the views of one another, rising above partisan considerations on matters of basic national interests, knowledge-based performance in the Parliament are all various dimensions of this professionalism. I call upon all the hon. Members to be professional in the discharge of their duties and functions.

Even as I emphasize professionalism, I do concede that the hon. Members should be equipped with the necessary infrastructure for the purpose. Members of Parliament elsewhere in the world, even in comparatively smaller countries, have full-fledged offices with adequate supporting staff and modern equipment including computers with the latest configuration and interconnectivity. I am aware that the hon. Speaker is also for modernising the service capabilities of parliamentarians. The House, as a whole, needs to innovate in this regard.

While I see that a significant percentage of the Members of the House are newcomers, I am sure that many of them would be bringing with them new experiences and new ideals. We should collectively facilitate articulation of the lessons of these experiences and reflection of these ideals.

There is an annual allocation of more than Rs. 1,000 crore under the M.Ps Local Area Development Scheme. My experience is that there are lots of inadequacies in the implementation of the Scheme. Those should be rectified. The Scheme should itself be made more flexible. I have no doubt that if the hon. Members would take serious interest in the Scheme, they could bring about significant improvement in the lot of the poor masses of the country. This is the least that could be done to them who, in fact, account for substantial voter turnout.

Our media has been very vibrant in projecting Parliament business. Because of the electronic revolution, visual images, inter-alia, about the performance of the Parliament have come to have outreach into remote parts of the country. A balanced media projection of the Parliament in action including the constructive work done by the members would go a long way in its preservation as a democratic institution and in strengthening peoples' faith in democratic values.

While the level of representation of women in the House remains static, for the first time in the history of our country, we are having a lady Leader of the Opposition. Madam, I hope that your presence in this vital office of the House will strengthen the forces of women's empowerment, particularly women's parity with men in the Parliament and other Legislative Bodies in the country.

Prime Minister, Sir, I wish you well in carrying our country into the next century.

Mr. Speaker, Sir, I had the privilege of working closely with you in the 12th Lok Sabha which you presided. It was a pleasurable experience. I look forward for working in closer cooperation with you as your deputy in this House as well.

MR. SPEAKER: Not thirteen months this time.

SHRI P.M. SAYEED (LAKSHADWEEP): Thank you very much. Jai Bharat.

MR. SPEAKER: So, the next item is Matters under Rule 377. I am inviting Shri P.M. Sayeed to take the Chair and start with the job as a Deputy Speaker from Matters under Rule 377.

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