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‘Modi saint, we are devils’: Oppn mocks PM, seeks apology on note ban remark

New Delhi: A united Opposition on Friday caused an uproar in Parliament, seeking an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for calling them “supporters of black money”, and forced both Houses to be adjourned till Monday.

Congress, BSP and TMC members rushed into the Well of the House shouting slogans demanding an apology from the Prime Minister for his remarks, while the ruling benches matched them with slogans praising of Modi, creating a pandemonium forcing Deputy Chairman P J Kurien to adjourn the proceedings till noon. When the House met again, similar scenes continued forcing another adjournment till 1430 hours and again until Monday.

Immediately after the House mourned the death of its former member Dipen Ghosh, Mayawati (BSP) was up on her feet saying the Prime Minister had this morning “wrongly accused opposition of holding black money” and demanded that he should apologise for his remarks.

Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said when it was made very clear by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and others during debate on demonetisation yesterday that the opposition is against black money, how can Modi make such allegations. “How can Prime Minister level such an allegation… we are against black money. Prime Minister must apologise,” he said as Congress and other opposition members trooped into the Well of House, raising slogans like “Pradhan Mantri maafi mango (Prime Minister apologise).”

Amid the din, Kurien got the listed papers laid. He said a notice under rule 267 seeking suspension of business to take up discussion on ban on 500 and 1000 rupee notes has been received from Azad. “I am ready to admit that motion provided you are ready for discussion,” he said.

Azad said his notice was conditional upon the Prime Minister coming to the House and listening to the entire debate and replying to it. He said when Modi had yesterday come to Rajya Sabha, “I had on behalf of the entire opposition welcomed him” and also asked whether he had come to participate in the demonetisation debate or in the Question Hour.

Kurien said it had been clarified yesterday by Leader of the House Arun Jaitley that the Prime Minister will come and intervene in the debate. But Azad disagreed, saying “we were promised that Prime Minister will be in the House till the debate is over” but Modi did not return after lunch hour.

“Prime Minister says opposition is favouring black money. This is an insult of the House and of the Opposition. When we have said we are against black money, when the entire Opposition has said the same, how can he say that. Prime Minister should apologise,” he said.

Mayawati said Modi has stated that if opposition was given 72 hours before demonetising high denomination currency, they should not have opposed him and instead praised him.

Painting the entire Opposition as those with black money is a lie, she said, adding that the Prime Minister has to apologise for his remarks.

Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said Modi has levelled a serious allegation and should apologise. Ramgopal Yadav (SP) said there could not be anything more shameful than the Prime Minister alleging that the entire Opposition was a supporter of black money.

Derek O’Brien (TMC) said there was a good debate yesterday where everyone had opposed black money. And now the Prime Minister is saying “he is a saint and we are all devils”, he said, also demanding an apology from Modi.

Kurien tried to reason with members for starting a debate but the Opposition members shouted slogans demanding an apology from Prime Minister. BJP members too countered them by raising slogans supporting Modi.

As the pandemonium continued, Kurien adjourned the proceedings till noon. When the House reassembled at noon and Chairman Hamid Ansari called the first question of the day, Congress members objected to taking up the Question Hour.

Leader of the Opposition Azad again referred to the remarks of the Prime Minister during the book release function earlier in the day.

“(The Prime Minister) levelled serious allegations on the entire Opposition. Opposition MPs are in Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha…(MLAs and MLCs in) state assemblies,” he said, adding that the Opposition cannot remain silent when serious allegations are levelled against them.

Azad said the Prime Minister has levelled allegation that opposition favoured black money holders. “The Prime Minister should apologise,” he said.

Amid the din, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi was heard saying that there was no question of apology from the Prime Minister, instead the Opposition should tender an apology.

In the meantime, Congress members trooped into the Well of the House. Some BJP members were standing in the aisle as Congress members shouted “Pradhan Mantri maafi mango”. As the uproar continued, Chair adourned the House till 1430 hours.

Meanwhile, in a virtual washout of its proceedings, Lok Sabha was adjourned for the seventh consecutive day today with Opposition parties vociferously protesting Modi’s dig at their protest against demonetisation and demanding an apology from him.

Demanding his presence in the House, Opposition members raised slogans asking Modi to make his statements inside the House and not to attack them outside.

As soon as the House met, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said that the Constitution Day would be observed tomorrow and referred to the 8th anniversary of Mumbai terror attacks.

Leader of Congress in the House Mallikarjun Kharge referred to Modi’s remarks at a function earlier in the day in which he had hit out at the Opposition over demonetisation.

Modi had said opposition parties were attacking him as they did not get time to prepare in advance. “The issue now is not our demand for an adjournment motion but the remarks of the Prime Minister… He said the Opposition supports black money,” Kharge said as members from various opposition parties rushed to the Well demanding that the PM make a statement in the Lok Sabha.

The Opposition members were heard shouting “Pradhan Mantri sadan mein aao…himmat hai toh sadan mein bolo,” (PM, come to the House. If you have the courage, speak in the House).

Expressing anguish that the Opposition was not ready to help run the House, the Speaker adjourned the proceedings for over 35 minutes till noon.

There was no let up in the Opposition’s protests when the House reassembled, even though the Speaker persisted with the Zero Hour for over 35 minutes in which members raised certain issues amid the din.

TMC leader Sudip Bandhopadhyay was allowed to speak when the members of his party withdrew from the Well for a while, but Mahajan did not allow Kharge speak as Congress members continued to shout slogans and remained present in the Well.

Modi’s comments have hurt the Opposition’s feelings, the TMC leader said, demanding that he withdraw them and apologise, drawing protests from treasury benches.

Rejecting Congress members’ demand that Kharge be allowed to speak, she said “you will remain in the Well, shout slogans, tear papers and would like to speak as well. I cannot allow it.”

She adjourned the House for the day as Opposition members including those from the Congress, TMC, Left and RJD continued with their protest and slogan-shouting.

PTI