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Panel To Seek Explanation From Smriti Irani On Her ‘Durga’ Remarks

New Delhi: A Parliamentary panel examining CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury’s privilege motion against Education Minister Smriti Irani on Wednesday decided to seek an explanation from her over her remarks made during a Rajya Sabha debate on the JNU row and Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide.

With Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari admitting the privilege motion against Ms Irani, the House committee could summon and question Ms Irani. However, the committee is learnt to be inclined to seek a written response from the minister first.

The committee headed by senior Congress leader PJ Kurien also decided to write to Delhi police to beef up the security of Yechury in the wake of he receiving threatening calls and derogatory messages for his participation in a discussion in the House on the day–February 26–when Irani made the remark.

“The committee has decided to seek an explanation from the Union Minister on why did she make a reference to Hindu Goddess Durga during the debate and why she made some remarks quoting Yechury, which he has denied having said,” the sources said.

“The committee has also decided to direct the police for immediate action to pin down those who issues threats to the CPI-M leader. The committee has also suggested that Yechury should be given proper security and will write to Delhi police in this regard,” sources in the committee said. Mr Ansari had sometime back sent Mr Yechury’s privilege motion against Ms Irani to the committee of privileges.

The privilege motion against Ms Irani was moved for making alleged “baseless allegations” against the CPI(M) leader during her statement on the debate on the JNU row and Central Hyderabad University scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide.

In his letter to the Rajya Sabha Chairman last month, the CPI(M) leader had written that the minister had made “baseless allegations” against him “imputing motives that are completely false”.

Mr Yechury had earlier said in February that he received threat calls and text messages for allegedly saying “wrong” things about Goddess Durga in the Rajya Sabha.

Mr Yechury had complained about having received threats in connection with his stance on the JNU row allegedly from right-wing forces.

During his speech in the Upper House, Mr Yechury had taken on Ms Irani for quoting certain Facebook posts purportedly written by Mr Vemula which were critical of the CPI(M) leader, and accused her of making “all foul fair”.

He had questioned the veracity of the Facebook account that she had claimed to be that of Mr Vemula.

Mr Yechury had later said he got around 1,000 calls and 500 text messages on his personal phone during the day.

The Rajya Sabha member had earlier claimed to have received threat calls on CPM head office’s landline number on February 15 in connection with the varsity row. Delhi police had taken suo moto cognizance of the reports of alleged threats to Mr Yechury and also asked for a complaint which his office had lodged.