HAVING WALKED out of Rajya Sabha in protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks against his predecessor, Manmohan Singh, the Congress on Wednesday threatened that it will not let the Prime Minister to speak in the House unless he apologises for using “ugly” and “unacceptable” language against a former PM. Sources said the party will raise the issue in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday – the last day of the first part of the Budget Session, which could derail the scheduled discussion on Budget. Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said Modi is behaving in an “extremely arrogant and insulting manner” towards the entire Opposition.
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Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said: “He doesn’t come to the House to listen to anyone from the Opposition speak. Today, he was scheduled to come at 5 pm, but he deliberately did not come. He came to the House only after the last speaker of the Opposition had concluded. And then he begins his speech. Within minutes of his speech, he attacks the former Prime Minister in the most unacceptable manner.”
“This is an insult of the House. It is arrogance,” former Union minister Kapil Sibal said. “We have not seen such arrogance by a Prime Minister.” Taking on Manmohan Singh, who had in the previous session called demonetisation an “organised loot” and “legalised plunder”, Modi on Wednesday said that the “art of bathing in a bathroom with a raincoat on” is known only to the former PM, as there is “no blot on him” despite “all the scams” in two terms of the UPA.
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In successive tweets later in the evening, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said, “When a Prime Minister reduces himself to ridiculing his predecessor — years his senior — he hurts the dignity of parliament & the nation. He demeans his position and himself more than anyone else. Today’s events were saddening and frankly; they were shameful.” Chidambaram said, “It is unbecoming of a Prime Minister to use such language for a former prime minister…. We are very, very disappointed; very, very angry with what the PM said, and we expressed our protest by walking out.”
He said Congress members could have stayed back and created a ruckus, stormed the well of the House and shouted down the Prime Minister. “But that would have, in the circumstances of the day, brought us down to the level of the debate the Prime Minister wanted. We don’t want such a debate to take place…. We want people to know that no Prime Minister before the present PM has used such language against a former PM.”
Arguing that Modi did not come to the House even for a minute in the last four days, Sibal said, “When we sought to know today when the Prime Minister will come, we were told he will only come when all of us have spoken…. Our last speaker was Anand Sharma…(that) he will not come till Anand Sharma completes his speech.”
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About Modi’s choice of words against Singh, Sibal said, “He should realise that he is the Prime Minister of India. The post of Prime Minister has prestige. (But) the Prime Minister addresses Parliament as if he is speaking in a maidan…he does not know what to say and what not (to say)…. It is as if he is pure and we are all black marketeers.”
Sharma said the Opposition had cautioned Modi initially against bringing down the debate to “such a low level.” But Modi, the Congress leader said, has “broken the decorum of political discourse…(and) brought it to a low level”.