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Prime Minister Narendra Modi mum as Rajya Sabha deadlock drags on

With the PM silent and Naidu sticking to his stand, the House descended into chaos.

Written by Manoj C G | New Delhi |
Updated: December 19, 2014 11:42:31 am
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Rajya Sabha in New Delhi on Thursday. (Source: PTI Photo/TV Grab) Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Rajya Sabha in New Delhi on Thursday. (Source: PTI Photo/TV Grab)

Through the 44 silent minutes he spent in Rajya Sabha Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent a loud and clear message that he would not concede to the Opposition’s demand of replying to a discussion on the “attack on the secular fabric of the country”.

Finally, the discussion did not begin despite arguments and counter arguments and the deadlock in House continued for the fourth day, threatening to derail the Centre’s agenda in the session, which includes the long-pending Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill. With just three working days, chances of its passage look bleak.

Modi walked in at 12.03 pm, a minute after the house was adjourned for the second time. It was the Prime Minister’s question day and the atmosphere was charged after two adjournments. Amid mild jeering from Congress members, Modi stopped at the third row to talk to Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar about the just-concluded climate talks at Lima.

As he stood there for nearly 14 minutes, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu went up to the PM to inform him of the developments in the House. When the House resumed at 12.17 pm, Modi took his seat. The verbal duel began, but Modi remained silent.

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Soon, leader after leader from the opposition implored that the PM be present during the debate and reply. JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav said: “Let the Prime Minister listen to all of us and give a satisfactory answer. Peace will prevail,” he said.

Naidu replied that the government was ready for any discussion after which the “minister concerned” will reply.

The opposition rose in united protest.

Congress deputy leader Anand Sharma said the Opposition has no intention to undermine the dignity of the PM’s post. Referring to Modi’s statement disapproving Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti’s remark, he said: “It is sad that after your statement, MPs from your party have violated that…What action will you take?”

With the PM silent and Naidu sticking to his stand, the House descended into chaos. Leader of the House Arun Jaitley intervened to say the government has already accepted the demand for a debate. “But now the opposition wants to decide who will speak when and who will reply…In this very session the Prime Minister made a statement on the demand of the Opposition. For three days after the statement, the House was not allowed to function. And, a new condition was raised… I repeat the government’s offer. If they want that under Rule 267, rules be suspended and subject of discussion start, let it start now.”

But the opposition insisted that the PM should reply. “There is an agreement for a discussion. All that we are saying is that let the PM be present, listen to us and answer,” CPM’s Sitaram Yechury said.

BSP chief Mayawati said: “In the country’s interest and in the interest of the people, don’t make it a prestige issue.”

To this, Naidu replied: “I would like to say there is no question of any prestige issue. The issue is of larger public interest. The country is calm. By bringing this motion, they want to create commotion outside.”

Following commotion, during which Modi kept exchanging notes with Jaitley, the House was adjourned at 1.01 pm.

Earlier, the opposition and the government crossed swords during Zero Hour. Anand Sharma said the government was being “arrogant”. Rejecting the charge and referring to normal functioning of Lok Sabha, Jaitley said “it is the arrogance of numbers and not the arrogance of the government.” The opposition has a majority in Rajya Sabha.

Yechury hit back. “If he is accusing us saying, ‘arrogance of numbers’, I would say the other House is functioning because of the tyranny of majority…,” he said.

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