Updated: August 2, 2016 5:14:35 am
The Opposition raised a brief uproar in the Rajya Sabha Monday over Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s remarks two days earlier that anyone speaking against the country must be “taught a lesson” the same way as an “actor” and an “online trading company”.
Although Parrikar had not taken any names, his remarks were widely seen as a reference to Aamir Khan who, at the Ramnath Goenka Awards in November, had spoken about a “sense of insecurity” resulting from rising intolerance. Months later, e-commerce firm Snapdeal did not renew its contract with Khan as brand ambassador.
On Monday, Parrikar was in the House during zero hour when the Trinamool Congress’s Derek O’Brien raised the issue of “dangerous and disturbing” rise in religious fundamentalism in the country. The government, ministers and people associated with the ruling party were “shooting their mouths off every day”, he said.
“When it happens the first time, you can call it a mistake. When it happens the second time, you can call it a bigger mistake, and you can call it a blunder the third time. But when it happens again and again, it’s a decision. I believe it is a decision of the government or else the defence minister would not have said what he said. It’s not just an aberration, it’s a decision,” O’Brien alleged. “The Prime Minister needs to come and say these are in fact mistakes, this is not thinking of the government.”
Best of Express Premium
Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “May I ask him [Parrikar] what lesson he is going to teach us, so that the House knows. The entire nation should be told what type of action and lesson he is going to teach the minorities of this country.”
Responding to Azad, Parrikar said, “Let the members see the video themselves and make up their minds, and not go by newspaper reports.”
Terming Parrikar’s remarks “highly objectionable”, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said, “It is a matter that borders on the question of privilege. Tomorrow you are going to threaten me … you will say there will be a social boycott, we will make them withdraw what they have said.”
Trying to pacify the opposition member, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said, “Minister says please see the video. It means he has not said.”
“What is quoted is not what I have said. I never took the name of anyone, nor threatened anyone,” Parrikar asserted.
Ram Gopal Yadav of the Samajwadi Party insisted that he had seen the video and whatever the minister had said was a “direct threat” to the minorities of the country.
“Ever since the BJP-led government has assumed office at the Centre, religious minorities, especially Muslims, have been targeted. Now, atrocities against Dalits are on rise. We want the Prime Minister to come to the House and clarify,” BSP chief Mayawati said.
While an MP can be “pardoned”, the Defence Minister or Home Minister are supposed to protect the territorial integrity of the country, Azad said. “Is this the way of protecting territorial integrity of the country? You are alienating your own people,” Azad said.
📣 Join our Telegram channel (The Indian Express) for the latest news and updates
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.