Sunday, Oct 26, 2014

Cong to Modi: Debate WTO, clarify remark

Express News Service | New Delhi | Posted: August 12, 2014 1:34 am

The Congress on Monday targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Rajya Sabha over his remarks that the previous UPA government sacrificed the interests of the poor at the WTO and demanded a clarification from him along with a discussion. As the opposition and treasury benches sparred over the issue, the House had to be adjourned twice during the morning session.

As soon as the House met in the morning, Congress members raised the issue arguing that the PM had contradicted Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman who had told the House last week there is no change in the government’s stand at WTO.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the BJP always believed that the Bali agreement was imperfect and argued there was no contradiction between the statements of the commerce minister and the Prime Minister.

“We have a different perception; you may have your own perception. On 13th December, 2013, the Bali Accord was entered into. In the next two days, my party and I had taken a public position with regard to the imperfection. We stand by it; and if at some stage, they want to discuss those imperfections, we are open to that,” he said.

Sitharaman too intervened suggesting that there should be no distortion and argued the PM’s comments are very much in the background “we have discussed.”

She said the previous government had not moved for four years on the Peace Clause in the WTO agreement and “left it hanging”, adding, “It is important to read the PM’s statement in that context.”

With the Congress members led by Anand Sharma unrelenting, the House had to be adjourned twice. Attacking Modi, Sharma said, “We cannot allow a situation that Prime Minister of the country will try to belittle and misinform when the House is in session.” Congress’ Digvijaya Singh joined him in questioning why the PM had contradicted his own minister.

The Congress continued its tirade against the PM outside the House as well. At the AICC briefing, Sharma said food security was never a part of the WTO agenda.

“India never accepted it at WTO or any multilateral forums because this is the sovereign space and sovereign right. We did expect the PM to be well informed and literate about these matters and not to make a statement which actually will shock the entire world about his lack of knowledge,” he said.

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