Seeking an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his remarks against those critical of his government’s demonetisation decision, an angry Opposition did not let Parliament function Friday, saying he had accused them of “being in favour of black money”. The government, however, rejected their demand. Members of Congress, Trinamool Congress, SP, BSP and the Left created an uproar in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, taking strong objection to the Prime Minister’s remarks which they said was an “insult” of Parliament.
But the government was quick to counter. “Why should the Prime Minister apologise? Should the Prime Minister apologise because he has hit out at the corrupt?” Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.
In Rajya Sabha, BSP chief Mayawati objected to the Prime Minister’s remarks, saying he had made an allegation against the entire Opposition that they back black money. “Either he should prove it or apologise to the House. The Prime Minister is talking on the issue repeatedly outside the House, not inside the House. He is saying had the Opposition been given 72 hours before this decision, it would not have launched an attack on him. He has made an allegation that the Opposition is backing black money. He should apologise,” Mayawati said.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the manner in which the Prime Minister made allegations that the Opposition parties were in favour of black money was an “insult of the entire House, Parliament and all MPs”.
“How can the Prime Minister make an allegation that all parties are in favour of black money? We had even said yesterday, in the presence of the Prime Minister, that we are against black money,” he said.
Congress, Trinamool Congress and other Opposition members trooped to the well of the House, raising slogans and seeking an apology from the Prime Minister. To counter them, BJP members stepped into the aisles and also raised slogans.
Amid the din, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said a notice under Rule 267, seeking suspension of business to take up discussion on the ban on Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, had been received from Azad. “I am ready to admit that motion provided you are ready for discussion,” he said.
Azad said his notice was conditional upon the Prime Minister coming to the House, listening to the entire debate and replying to it. But Modi, he said, did not return to the House after lunch hour Thursday.
Derek O’Brien (TMC) said everyone had opposed black money. “If anyone is opposing this policy, then it does not mean he is a saint and others are all devils,” he said, insisting that Modi come to the House and seek an apology.
JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav too said Modi had levelled a serious allegation and should apologise. Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) said there could not be anything “more shameful” than the Prime Minister alleging that the entire Opposition was a supporter of black money.
The scene in Lok Sabha was no different. Opposition parties protested the Prime Minister’s remarks and demanded an apology. Amid the din, the House could take up only two questions during Question Hour before it was adjourned until noon, and later for the day. Seeking the Prime Minister’s presence in the House, Opposition members said he should make statements inside the House and not attack them outside.