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Winter Session: PM Narendra Modi’s 31 minutes in Rajya Sabha

That’s the time PM Narendra Modi spent in Rajya Sabha on Thursday, his first time in the ongoing Winter Session.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi |
Updated: December 5, 2014 9:22:42 am


11:10 am

Modi walks in, with Health Minister J P Nadda behind him. He slaps Babul Supriyo in the arm endearingly. MoS Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi almost jostles with senior leader Vijay Goel to stand behind Modi. Modi reaches the front row, starts talking to AIADMK leader V Maitreyan and Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu. At this point, NCP’s Majeed Memon comes up and talks to him. Behind him, all BJP MPs have stood up at their seats. Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Babul Supriyo, Jitendra Singh, Chandan Mitra are all standing quietly as Modi continues to chat. A couple of BJP MPs in the back benches are talking to each other. They realise they are the only ones sitting while others are standing and quickly stand up. Maitreyan is seen talking while Modi listens to him.

11:15 am
Modi sits in the front row — alone — and BJP MPs who were standing so far also sit down. Chandan Mitra walks upto him, leans and talks while Modi listens. Mitra finishes his short conversation and goes back to his seat, couple of rows behind. Modi, meanwhile, exchanges looks and a smile with Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agarwal. Taking a cue, Ravi Shankar Prasad also nods towards at Agarwal.

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11:17 am
Nirmala Sitharaman walks up and asks Modi something and goes back. Modi and Venkaiah are seen chatting, since they are separated by the aisle.

11:18 am
Minister Arun Jaitley walks in and before taking his seat next to Modi, goes behind the Chair’s seat to say something to P J Kurien. Kurien can be seen standing behind the chair, and looking at the clock, waiting for it to strike 11.19. As Kurien takes the Chair, Naidu says that the PM is in the House and would like to say something. Kurien asks “Honourable PM” to make a statement. Modi speaks for 1 minute 24 seconds. Disapproves Sadhvi’s comments and asks the House to accept her apology and move on. He is interrupted twice by shouts of “no-no” from Congress MPs. Modi ends his speech amid shouts from the Congress and Opposition and desk-thumping from his BJP colleagues. Naidu says let business proceed. Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Anand Sharma wants to make a statement while Naidu says let there be no discussion on the PM’s speech. Sharma is allowed to speak. Modi, then, puts on his headphone. Sharma says, “We have listened to the PM respectfully, but a fundamental question is not about the minister’s inexperience. But this is not the first time. The ministers have sworn by the Constitution. So law must take its own course, and she should be removed.”


11:25 am
Kurien says we should continue with the business. The Congress and others say “no-no”. Naidu says let’s leave this issue, we are a House of elders. Modi is twirling the corner of his kurta. Jaitley says that the Opposition sought the PM’s statement for last three days, and now that the PM has done so, should get on with the business. “No-no,” says the Opposition, in chorus. CPM’s Sitaram Yechury gets up and says that the question raised is about the objectionable remarks by the Minister. It was said that she apologised, but she did not, she expressed her regret. Goel gets up to intervene. Modi listens on the headphone with his forefinger touching his cheek and the thumb on his chin. Yechury says she should be removed from her ministerial post, else the House will not run. Meanwhile, Jaya Bachchan is agitated about something, which Kurien doesn’t allow. She speaks for a while and sits down.

11:30 am
Kurien tells the Opposition that “you are losing the Zero Hour. Don’t blame us.” He says that after Sharad Yadav, “I will go to Zero Hour.” Modi listens in while twirling the corner of his kurta. Ravi Shankar says “yeh nahin chalega” (it can’t work like this). Jaitley, seated next to Modi, turns around and says something to Naqvi. Naqvi, in turn, asks BJP MPs to get up on the their seats and counter the shouting by the Opposition. As the shouting between two sides goes on, Modi is still watching, holding the corner of his kurta. Senior lawyer and MP Ram Jethmalani walks in and comes from the Well towards Modi. The PM stretches his hand towards him. They shake hands, smile and exchange a few words. Jethmalani moves on. Kurien, meanwhile, calls Naqvi and they whisper to each other. BJP MPs are up on their feet and Goel says what is the guarantee that the House will function if JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav is allowed to speak. Kurien says, “I will have to adjourn the House.” One of the Congress MPs then rushes to the Well but is restrained by others and goes back. Sharad Yadav then gets up and says it is the tradition of the House to ask for a clarification after the statement made by the PM. The PM says “Sabka saath, sabka vikaas”. Somebody shouts from behind, “Acche din” to which Yadav says, “Leave Acche din, PM’s party members speak this hate language everyday. They create social tension.” Venkaiah tells Kurien, “End the discussion.” Yadav says, “Its the constitutional responsibility and the remove the Minister.”

11:40 am
Congress MPs stand up and start shouting. Kurien then calls for CPI’s D Raja to make his Zero Hour mention. Congress and BJP MPs stand up and the House is adjourned till 12 noon. Modi gets up, and MPs again surround him. Sushma Swaraj is seen telling him something. He is rubbing his neatly-trimmed beard and moustache. And after a minute, he leaves. At the other side of the House, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is seated in the front row next to Anand Sharma. All through the 31 minutes, he doesn’t say a word, just watches.

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