In a rare instance of the Prime Minister’s remarks on the floor of Parliament being edited out, Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday decided to expunge some comments made by PM Narendra Modi while felicitating newly elected Deputy Chairman Harivansh. A word from a couplet that Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale had recited has also been removed from the Rajya Sabha records.
Modi in his speech had showered praise on Harivansh, mentioning little-known nuggets about him. However, during that speech he used a pun on Opposition candidate B K Hariprasad’s initials that many MPs did not appreciate. That part is no longer in the records.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Hariprasad said: “He is the Prime Minister of the country, the way he said it is unbecoming of the office of PM. Not even a panchayat member — who is also called PM — will say this. However, I did not react because had I done so, the interpretation would have been that I was reacting because I had lost. Let the world know what kind of Prime Minister we have. Neither did my party take it up. However RJD MP Manoj Jha protested and that is why it now stands expunged.”
Rajya Sabha was adjourned sine die on Friday. Naidu in his address admitted to members that he tends to get “emotional” on the chair because he is incapable of looking at “Parliament as a ritual”. The remarks are significant because a clutch of Opposition parties have been considering writing a letter to him faulting him on his running of the House, the immediate trigger being Naidu’s decision to allow BJP president Amit Shah, who is a member of the Upper House, to speak twice on two consecutive days on the matter of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) of Assam.
The matter, raised by Trinamool MP Sukhendu Shekhar Roy as a point of order, was dismissed by Naidu on Thursday saying: “One point of order was raised by Shri Sukhendu Shekhar Ray. He himself has answered the point of order also saying that ‘if the Chairman permits, the Member can resume his speech’. So, that matter ended there.”