PM Narendra Modi seeks end to row over minister's remark, logjam continues

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday told the Lok Sabha that minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti has apologised for her abusive remark and the issue be put to rest, but the stalemate in parliament persisted with the opposition insisting on a joint resolution condemning her comments.

Opposition parties, led by the Congress, walked out of the Lok Sabha even as the proceedings in the Rajya Sabha were paralysed for the fourth consecutive day.

Later the opposition parties came out with a statement demanding a joint resolution condemning "the attempts to outrage our constitution by making inflammatory speeches aimed at dividing the syncretic, socio-cultural mosaic of our country's rich diversity".

"The current impasse in the Rajya Sabha is the creation of the government," it said.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and many opposition members also protested outside the Parliament House, saying that "democratic process" was not being allowed inside and pressed for the minister's resignation.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu, meanwhile, urged the opposition to allow normal proceedings of the two houses.

Modi made a statement in the Lok Sabha soon after the house met for the day, saying he had expressed his unhappiness at Jyoti's remarks during a meeting of the Bharatiya Janata Party parliamentary party Tuesday.

"Before the issue was raised in the house, when there was a meeting of my party MPs, I had sternly instructed against using such language, and had expressed my unhappiness," he said.

In remarks similar to those made in the Rajya Sabha Thursday, Modi said the minister was new.

"Nobody can approve such things. Later, the minister apologised. She is a new minister, we know her social background - she is from a village - and she has apologised and it is the duty of senior members in the house that when a member apologises in front of such a big house, then we should also be liberal."

The prime minister said he was grateful to members of the Lok Sabha that they allowed the house to function.

Unlike the Rajya Sabha which has seen repeated adjournments, the Lok Sabha has transacted business after protests by opposition members during question hour.

Modi said members should accept "maryada (dignity of language)" and speak within that - whether they were within the house or outside.

He said senior leaders should request members of their parties to close the issue and move forward with their work in the interest of the country.

Meanwhile, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati took objection to Modi's appeal that the minister's apology be accepted keeping in mind her background, saying it was improper as it meant making "allegations against one community".

She said if the minister is incompetent or has made an objectionable statement, then she should be removed and another person from that community should replace her.

Jyoti, who is minister of state for food processing industries, 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).

Soon after Modi spoke in the Lok Sabha, opposition members, including those from the Congress, Aam Aadmi Party, and Trinamool Congress, staged a walkout.

The house continued with its business though the opposition members did not return to the house the entire day.

In the Rajya Sabha, disruptions continued over Jyoti's remarks for the fourth day, leading ultimately to its adjournment for the day.

Communist Party of India-Marxist leader (CPI-M) Sitaram Yechury urged Chairman M. Hamid Ansari to allow passage of the resolution. Congress also made similar demand.

Naidu made an appeal in the Lok Sabha to the opposition members to return to the house and take part in the discussions.

He said the opposition should join discussions to "meet expectations of people".

Talking to reporters outside the Parliament House, he said the opposition protest will "boomerang".

He also said that Jyoti will campaign for the BJP as and when required, and dismissed suggestions that she was being pulled out over her controversial remark.


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