Congress members on Thursday staged a walkout of the Lok Sabha protesting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dig at his predecessor Manmohan Singh in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. Party Leader in the House Mallikarjun Kharge tried to raise the issue as soon as the Zero Hour began but the Speaker disallowed him, saying a matter relating to the other House cannot be raised.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar also said the issue cannot be raised here. Whatever Modi has said about Singh is not good for parliamentary democracy, Kharge said before the Speaker cut him off.
With party president Sonia Gandhi looking on, Congress members trooped into the Well demanding that the Prime Minister apologise for his remarks. An irate Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said they were snatching away the rights of other members as they have got the chance to speak during the Zero after several days on Thursday.
Kharge said what Modi had said was an insult to the country. With the Speaker continuing with Zero Hour proceedings, Congress members staged a walkout. Taking a dig at Singh, Modi had said he knew the art of taking bath wearing a raincoat as there were many scams during his government but he had remained untainted.
Here are the live updates:
#They (Cong) called PM names & obstructed the house umpteen times. They are the ones who should tender apology: Union Min Venkaiah Naidu
#Rajya Sabha adjourned till 2 PM following uproar by Opposition members, including those from AIADMK
#Rajya Sabha adjourned till 12 pm
#AIADMK MPs also protesting in the well of the house in Rajya Sabha
#Uproar in Rajya Sabha over PM Modi's speech yesterday
#Matter of shame that PM insulted memory of Indira ji by referring to some book, did not even place the book in the house: Anand Sharma, Cong
#Lok Sabha adjourned till 11.30 am after Opposition uproar
#Let us see because this has been done in Rajya Sabha, I'll consult others: Mallikarjun Kharge on seeking apology from PM Modi
#Unfortunate that PM Modi used such language against former PM, condemn such statement: Mallikarjun Kharge on PM's statement on Manmohan Singh
#Meeting of Opposition leaders underway at Ghulam Nabi Azad's office in Parliament
#In fact it is Congress which should tender unconditional apology for not respecting the PM and Parliament: Venkaiah Naidu
#How Congress treated Dr Manmohan Singh should also be discussed, how his ordinance was rejected: Ananth Kumar,Union Minister
On Wednesday, hitting back at Singh, who had called demonetisation an “organised loot” and “legalised plunder”, Modi said,” He (Manmohan) had perfected the art of bathing under a shower with raincoat on” and so there was no blot on him despite all the scams that occurred during his tenure.
This provoked an angry reaction from Congress members who staged a walkout in the midst of the reply by the Prime Minister to a debate on Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address in the Rajya Sabha.
Members of Left, Trinamool Congress and JD(U) also staged a walkout after the reply, complaining that they were unhappy with Modi’s statement and wanted to ask questions which were disallowed.
Mounting a scathing attack on Modi for his comments, Congress said those were in “extremely poor” taste and “unbecoming of a Prime Minister”. The party also demanded an apology from the Prime Minister in the House.
The Congress also dubbed Modi as “arrogant” and charged him with bringing the debate to “the lowest level”.
“Within minutes of his speech, he attacked the former Prime Minister in the most unacceptable manner. He said Manmohan Singh occupied various positions and one must learn from him how to take a shower wearing a rain coat.
“It was in extremely poor taste. It is unbecoming of a Prime Minister to use such language against a former PM. We are very very disappointed and angry (with) what the Prime Minister said. We expressed our protest by walking out (from the House),” senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said.
“This is an insult of the House...we have never seen such arrogance. The Prime Minister should think that there is a stature to the post he holds and he does not know what words should be used...We will not tolerate this. We condemn the Prime Minister’s remarks. He should apologise to the House for this,” he said.
Earlier, targeting Manmohan Singh, Modi said,”in this country, perhaps there will be hardly anyone from the economic field who has had dominance on the country’s financial affairs for half of the country’s 70 years of independence. Out of 70 years, for 30-35 years, he has been directly associated with financial decisions.
“So many scams occurred... We politicians have a lot to learn from Dr Sahab. So much happened, there is not a single blot on him. Dr Sahab is the only person who knows the art of bathing in a bathroom with a raincoat on.”
As Congress members created uproar and staged a walkout, an angry Modi said, “If you cross the limits of decorum, then you should have courage to listen to the response. We have the capacity to pay in the same coin. We do so within the limits of decorum and boundaries of the Constitution. They (Congress) don’t want to accept the defeat in any form. How long will it continue??
He went on to add, “If the person who held such a high post, used the words “loot” and “plunder” in the House, they (Congress) also should have thought 50 times (before using those words).”Modi also came in for sharp criticism from Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who said,” When a Prime Minister reduces himself to ridiculing his predecessor-years his senior, he hurts the dignity of the parliament &the nation.
“He demeans his position and himself more than anyone else. Today’s events were saddening and frankly, they were shameful,” Gandhi tweeted.
(With inputs from agencies)