Tendulkar fails to make maiden speech amid uproar

New Delhi


Cricket maestro Sachin Tendulkar on Thursday could not make his maiden speech in the Rajya Sabha amid uproar by Congress members over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remarks against his predecessor Manmohan Singh, leading to Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu blasting the opposition before adjourning the House for the day.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar also slammed the Congress for obstructing Tendulkar's speech.

Soon after the House met at 2 p.m., Tendulkar rose to speak on the right to play and future of sports in India as part of a short duration discussion. But he could not speak amid noisy protests by the Congress members.

Naidu urged the Congress members to allow Tendulkar to speak as he was to give his maiden speech in the Upper House.

"An honourable member, who has been awarded Bharat Ratna, wants to speak on an important issue like sports. Let him speak. All focus should be on Sachinji," he said.

Actress Jaya Bachchan, a Samajwadi Party MP, whispered something to Tendulkar. She later told reporters that she told Tendulkar to sit down until the protests subside.

But the Congress members continued with their sloganeering.

"This does not suit you... nothing is going to happen... You don't have sportsman spirit," Naidu said.

Later, a Congress MP who did not wish to be named said there was no reason for them to stop their protests over the aspersions cast on the integrity of a former Prime Minister for a member who seldom comes to the House.

Hitting out at the Congress, Ananth Kumar said that while it was taking part in a debate on supplementary demands for grants in the Lok Sabha, in the Rajya Sabha, they obstructed Tendulkar from speaking.

"The Congress has lost not only direction but also its plot.

"In the Lok Sabha after four days of protest, they are participating in the debate on supplementary demands for grant, while in the Rajya Sabha they stopped pride of India, Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar," he said.

"The glaring question is whether this is because of the emergence of a new leadership in the party," he said, referring to the recent appointment of Rahul Gandhi as Congress President.

Ananth Kumar said the issue being raised by Tendulkar was not a political one, and all sports lovers in India had been hurt by this action.

"A great batsman who weathered many seasons, faced all spin balls and googlies, I think he was astonished or amused with this behaviour of Congress party... I condemn this behaviour of Congress," he said.A

On the Congress' demand for a clarification from Modi over his comments on Manmohan Singh, Ananth Kumar said: "There is no issue... go to the verbatim speech... If a Pakistan ambassador was there, and the former PM was meeting him, he should have informed the government."

Modi, during the Gujarat Assembly polls, had claimed that during a dinner meeting at Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar's house, Manmohan Singh discussed the Gujarat polls with Pakistan's High Commissioner to India and former Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri. - IANS