Centre’s demand for Opposition apology throws House into chaos

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 16, 2018 Published on December 09, 2016

Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi addressing the media at Parliament House, on Friday   -  Shanker Chakravarty

SMRITI IRANI, Union Textiles Minister

Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi’s plan to speak in Parliament on the issue of demonetisation did not succeed on Friday as the ruling BJP turned the tables on the Opposition, accusing it of disrupting the House for 16 consecutive, and demanding that it tender an apology for paralysing the House’s functioning.

As soon as the Lok Sabha assembled for the day, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge rose to make some points but BJP members shouted back, referring to President Pranab Mukherjee’s observations on Thursday and demanded an apology, triggering a fresh round of Opposition protest.

Opposition climb-down

Incidentally, the Opposition seemed to have climbed down from their earlier demand for discussion with voting. Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi was said to be all ready to take on the government on the issue of distress following demonetisation. “The government is running away from debate...if they allow me to speak then you will see what an earthquake will come,” he told reporters before the session began.

In the House, Kharge said his party was “ready for a discussion on demonetisation and its repercussions”. He later told reporters that Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had agreed to consider their request for a discussion in the morning, and said she would take up the matter with the government.

However, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the Opposition had held the House to ransom with the disruptions and must therefore tender an apology. “For 16 days they have disrupted the House and held it hostage. Majority wanted to debate. But Congress, TMC and Left members are not allowing the House to function. The situation has reached such a stage that the President had to speak against the disruption. They must tender apology to the people of the country,” he said.

Later, talking to reporters outside Parliament, Rahul Gandhi said there would have been an “earthquake” if he was allowed to speak in Parliament. “Demonetisation is the biggest scam in the history of India... I want to speak in Lok Sabha. I will tell everything there,” the Amethi MP said and added: “If they allow me to speak in Parliament, you will see what an earthquake will happen.”

‘Modi’s biggest scam’

Attacking Narendra Modi, Gandhi said the Prime Minister would not even be able to sit in Parliament. “The Prime Minister is giving speeches across the country but is afraid of coming to the Lok Sabha and is not willing to sit there,” he said. “I want to tell [everyone] about the biggest scam committed by Narendra Modi single-handedly and present the voice of people, especially the poor, who have suffered due to this move,” he added.

The BJP scoffed at the Nehru scion for the comments. “Rahul ji thinks too highly about his oratory skills and he himself knows how much his speeches appeal...As far as tremors are concerned. I think when he speaks there are tremors within Congress not outside,” BJP leader and Textiles Minister Smriti Irani said.

Wheat import

The issue of demonetisation obstructed the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha too. The Opposition members alleged that the Centre’s decision to do away with the import duty on wheat will hit the farmer hard. Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said the country has enough buffer stock of wheat and the import will help in curbing the price rise.

Published on December 09, 2016
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