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When Speaker had to cut Prabhu short

Talking about the need to generate internal resources, Prabhu had said the standing committee’s recommendation is “a little confusing”.

Written by Avishek G Dastidar | New Delhi |
April 22, 2015 3:13:48 am
The opposition accused Prabhu of “casting aspersions” on the character of the standing committee. The opposition accused Prabhu of “casting aspersions” on the character of the standing committee.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu Tuesday upset members with remarks in the Lok Sabha about some of the recommendations in the report of the standing committee on railways, the majority of whose members are BJP MPs. The opposition accused Prabhu of “casting aspersions” on the character of the standing committee.

As members interrupted Prabhu’s remarks during his reply to the discussion on the demands for grants for railways, later passed in the Lok Sabha, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan intervened and directed him not to refer to the standing committee unnecessarily. “Please keep in mind that the standing committee is everybody’s committee. It has many members. You read it (report), but do not refer to it every now and then… you may only say what you are going to do.”

Talking about the need to generate internal resources, Prabhu had said the standing committee’s recommendation is “a little confusing”. “The logic goes that we do not want an increase in passenger fares… Of course the standing committee’s recommendation in this regard is a little confusing to me because they have said in a very political way that we should increase internal generation without saying that we should increase the passenger fares. I do not know whether the standing committee really meant it,” he said.

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The committee’s chairman, Trinamool Congress MP Dinesh Trivedi, told The Indian Express later: “I don’t think Prabhu has read the report. If he has, he has not understood it.”

During Prabhu’s speech, opposition members including former railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge and RSP’s N K Premchandran objected to the word “political” but Prabhu carried on. “… Report says they are happy that after initial inertia of many years, the Ministry of Railways has woken up and tried to make an investment plan. I do not know whose inertia they are talking about. I am not commenting on that. But this is what the committee says: ‘shrugging off inertia’.”

Kharge raised a point of order: “You cannot cast aspersions on the standing committee. The standing committee does not consist of members from opposition only. The majority of members are from your party.”

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu, who had just walked in, urged Kharge “not to be unfair”. Kharge said Naidu wasn’t in the House when Prabhu spoke of the committee.

The Speaker then intervened.

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