PM Modi did not question Manmohan Singh, Hamid Ansari commitment, says Arun Jaitley in Parliament

The Congress had been disrupting Parliament from day one of the winter session, seeking first an apology and then settling for a clarification from the PM Narendra Modi over his remarks about Manmohan Singh and Hamid Ansari.

Written by Manoj C G , Ritika Chopra | New Delhi | Updated: December 28, 2017 8:50 am
Narendra Modi, Manmohan Singh, Winter Session of Parliament, Hamid Ansari, Arun Jaitley, Congress demands apology, Pakistan, Gujarat elections Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (Express Photo/Renuka Puri)

Days of back-channel negotiations and exchange of drafts later, the government and Congress Wednesday resolved the stalemate in Parliament which had brought the winter session to a standstill over remarks made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress veteran Mani Shankar Aiyar at the height of the Gujarat election campaign.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told Rajya Sabha: “Let me categorically state that the Prime Minister, in his statements or speeches, did not question nor did he mean to question the commitment to this nation of either Dr Manmohan Singh, the former Prime Minister, or Hamid Ansari, the former Vice President. Any such perception is completely erroneous. We hold these leaders in high esteem as also their commitment to this nation”.

He said “many statements had been made on all sides during the elections (and) we do not want the stalemate as a result of this to continue”. This was followed by similar conciliatory remarks by Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad who, without naming party veteran Mani Shankar Aiyar, said the Congress dissociated itself from statements made by its leaders which went against the dignity of the Prime Minister. He said the Opposition would not want anybody to say anything in future too to hurt the dignity of the Prime Minister.

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Modi and Manmohan Singh were not present in the House when Jaitley and Azad spoke. Thanking Jaitley, Azad said: “I, on behalf of my party and the Opposition, want to assure you that we too do not want to say anything against any leader and the Prime Minister. And if during the election, if a member of our party did say something that hurt the dignity of the Prime Minister, then our party wishes to dissociate itself from that remark and wants to have nothing to do with it. In future too, nothing should be said to hurt the dignity of the Prime Minister.”

The Congress had been disrupting Parliament from day one of the winter session, seeking first an apology and then settling for a clarification from the Prime Minister over his remarks that Manmohan Singh and Hamid Ansari were part of a secret meeting at Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s residence in which some Pakistani officials were also present. Aiyar had earlier called the Prime Minister a “neech kisam ka aadmi”.

The first signs of the tension easing came last week itself when the Congress climbed down from its demand for an apology from the Prime Minister. It agreed to Jaitley’s formulation that a statement would be made by him on behalf of the Prime Minister to clear the air. That was a way out for the government as it could not have accepted the Congress’s demand for a statement from the Prime Minister. The Congress too had realised that it could not stall Parliament for long over “one issue.”

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Meanwhile, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel met Manmohan Singh at his residence. Sources in the Congress maintained that Singh was deeply hurt by the Prime Minister’s remarks. Jaitley had told Congress leaders that he was even willing to meet Singh personally clear the air. With the two sides agreeing to resolve the impasse, negotiations began on a mutually acceptable text.

That, sources said, took time. The two sides met several times over the weekend. Drafts were exchanged and each word and formulation was discussed. The Congress, sources said, was very clear that the statement should reflect that the Prime Minister did not intend to question either Singh or Ansari’s integrity and their commitment to the nation and that it should say that the government unequivocally respects their contribution to the nation and holds them in high esteem.

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The logjam ended Sunday evening when Jaitley and Goel met Azad and Anand Sharma. The final draft, sources said, was agreed to by both the sides on Sunday but some minor modifications were made Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning. The government wanted the Congress to “disown and regret” the statements made by its leaders against the Prime Minister which was agreed to.

Azad later said the Congress did not succumb to pressure but “yes, we did not want to continue this logjam for a longer period”. “So many things are happening. We are living in a dynamic world and everyday different issues come up before the country and before Parliament. We decided that we should not confine ourselves to one issue and hammer it again and again for days and weeks together. That meant letting up the government from these issues which come up every day,” he said.

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  1. S
    S ashok
    Dec 28, 2017 at 8:17 am
    All said and done the PM should not have stooped down so low to utter and cast aspersions on a former PM,a former VP from the minority community, a former Army Chief. The tone and tenor of the speech , despite a very bad throat, clearly indicated an ulterior motive, and was meant to stir up emotions and passions in a last minute surge. For a cons utional head to make statements which imply that a particular Ahmed miya will become the chief minister ,instigate riots and therefore vitiate the business atmosphere , is setting a dangerous precedent. the cons ution by definition is an equal opportunity enabler. All may be fair in a war, but in a democracy elections are not warlike missions. Pursuit of power at any cost seems to be the only motto. If similar tactics are adopted at local, panchayat, state and national elections the we are heading for a massive social showdown
    1. ajith Mallu
      Dec 28, 2017 at 2:40 am
      What Modi meant is that Gujaraties are fools and thin skinned and hence their vote can be swayed through lies and deceptions. Sorry state of affair indeed. I am sure people in Gujarat will teach him a lesson in 2019
      1. Ashok Major
        Dec 28, 2017 at 1:17 am
        Guess we now we need a translator for whatever Modi says.He promised 15 lakh in 2014.Shah clarified it was a jumla,people misunderstood recent Gujrat election ,Modi accused former PM and vice president along with other people including former army chief of conspiring with Pakistan. Now jaitley explains ,Modi didn't mean that Manmohan and former vice president were conspiring.So who was?The remaining?Why did jaitley now come up with this peace offering when at the time of incident he announced that PM would not apologise and that Congress should apologise.It would have been better Mr jaitley if you had said then what you said today in Parliament,that both Manmohan and former vice president worked in service of nation.But I guess you needed clearance to say that!
        1. Birendra Kashyap
          Dec 27, 2017 at 11:59 pm
          you politicions can reconcile,but for public feku remains feku chaddi MORONJI
          1. Amitabha Bhattacharjee
            Dec 27, 2017 at 11:45 pm
            Modi said what he said and the result was achieved in the election, now reconciliation is meningless
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