Modi disapproves minister's remark, Oppn not satisfied

New Delhi


Giving in to opposition demands to speak on the row over union minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti's unparliamentary language, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday said he "strongly disapproved" of her remarks and urged the opposition not to disrupt the Rajya Sabha. But an unmollified opposition persisted with its demand for her sacking.

Breaking his silence, Modi spoke in the Rajya Sabha on the issue, and sought to calm an outraged opposition that has been demanding Jyoti's sacking.

"Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti has apologised. The house should gracefully accept that and carry forward its business in national interest," Modi said.

"When I got to know about the statement, there was a meeting of my party. Very strongly, I disapproved of the language and said even in the heat of elections we should avoid such comment... even before the issue was raised in the house, I took it up," he added.

"The minister, who is new, has come to the house for the first time. We know her background, she apologised.

"And this is also a lesson for all of us here that we do not violate the do's and don'ts, and I once again urge the house to keep the nation in mind and carry on with our work," he said.

Jyoti reportedly said at a public meeting here: "Aapko tay karna hai ki Dilli mein sarkar Ramzadon ki banegi ya haramzadon ki." (You have to decide if you want a government in Delhi to be led by the children of Lord Ram or illegitimate children).

Senior government members tried to pacify the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, with Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley urging the members to let the house run after the prime minister's statement, but to no avail.

As soon as Modi sat down, Naidu stood up and said: "In view of the prime minister's statement, I request the house should be allowed to function."

But the opposition was unmoved and refused to relent.

Congress leader Anand Sharma said: "It is not about the minister's experience. We do not have bad feelings against anyone as a person. The Constitution does not accept such statements, so the opposition urges, to respect the Constitution, tough action must be taken, and the minister should be dismissed."

Jaitley, who is Leader of the House, too wooed the opposition.

"The prime minister has made a statement, and the opposition has stated its position. Let us get on with the work," Jaitley said.

The opposition has been stalling proceedings in the Rajya Sabha for the past three days demanding the minister's sacking.

The upper house, which had already witnessed an adjournment before the prime minister's statement, however, continued to be disrupted by opposition members.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury said: "Niranjan Jyoti's apology means she has committed a crime. She must resign."

The protests forced another adjournment. When the house met at noon for question hour, the protests continued, forcing Chairman Hamid Ansari to adjourn the house till 2 p.m.

Janata Dal-United chief Sharad Yadav said Jyoti's remarks were a blot on the Constitution and that the prime minister must ask her to resign.

"On the one hand, the prime minister says 'sabka saath, sabka vikas' but his own partymen keep saying things every day that are against his own mission. These remarks are coming after they've taken oath in Rashtrapati Bhavan. How can they continue?" Yadav said.

Ansari said it was "unbecoming" of members to keep disrupting the proceedings.

When the Rajya Sabha met again at 2.35 p.m., protests continued and forced Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien to adjourn the house for the day.

In the Lok Sabha, question hour was disrupted as opposition members demanded a statement by the prime minister on the issue.

Members of the opposition trooped near the speaker's podium and also raised slogans like "Achche din kahan kahan gaye, PM Modi jawaab do." (Where have the promises of good days gone, PM Modi give an answer.)

The house was disrupted for over an hour.

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said the prime minister should make a statement as he was Leader of the House.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan tried to pacify the members, but some opposition leaders staged a walkout. The Lok Sabha later resumed business. - IANS