Government faces embarrassment in Rajya Sabha

New Delhi: In a major embarrassment for the government in Rajya Sabha, an amendment to the president's speech was passed regretting the lack of reference to corruption and black money in the speech.

The amendment was moved by Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury on the "failure of the government to address high level corruption and failure to bring back black money" to India.

Yechury said he was moving the amendment as Prime Minister Narendra Modi refused to give clarifications and left the house soon completing his reply.

Moving the amendment to vote, Yechury said: "Since he (Modi) is asking for a fight, I am not withdrawing."

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu pleaded with the member not to put the amendment to vote.

"Moving amendments usually does not happen," Naidu said, adding the prime minister's reply in the house addressed both the issues.

"I request this is an issue on which there can be no difference of opinion... Please do not press for division," the minister said.

Yechury, while stating that he would have withdrawn the amendment in normal circumstances, said: "Normally I would have conceded to the parliamentary affairs minister's request...

"The normal procedure is if we disagree with something, we rise for interjection, that was not allowed...

"After the minister's speech, we rise to ask for clarification, that was not allowed, and the LOP (Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad) was not allowed to ask for clarifications," an angry Yechury said.

"There has been violation of all norms and procedure in this house, we have strong objection, we would like to record that as well in this vote," he said.

The Marxist leader complained that the prime minister left the house immediately after completing his reply and did not offer the opposition the courtesy to seek clarifications.

"He cant leave the house and go after this," Yechury said.

Naidu argued that there was no scope for clarification as it was a motion and not a statement.

"When you make a statement you have clarifications. This is a motion every party has put their point of view. There is no scope, never before clarification given. They have to understand that," said Naidu.

Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari, however, said it was the member's right to move the amendment if he wanted.

"What the minister said is a matter of propriety, if you want to move the amendment, it is a right the chair cannot deny," Ansari said.

The unrelenting Yechury then moved the amendment which was adopted with 118 members supporting the amendment against 57 who voted against, embarrassing the government which is in a minority in the upper house.

Ansari then read out the message that would go to the president from the Rajya Sabha: "The members of the Rajya Sabha assembled in this session are deeply grateful to the president for the address which he has been pleased to deliver to both houses of parliament assembled together but regret that is no mention in the address about the failure of the government to curb the high level corruption and to bring back black money."

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