Will Modi clarify his ‘conspiracy with Pak’ remark against Manmohan in Parliament?
New Delhi, Dec 20: The Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections are over. Even the results are out. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the polls in both the states after the results were declared on Monday.
However, the shadow of elections is looming large over the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament which is likely to cause disruptions and adjournments in the proceedings of both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in the coming days.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remark against former PM Manmohan Singh of hatching a "conspiracy with Pakistan" during one of his election rallies in Gujarat earlier has become a bone of contention between the ruling BJP and the Opposition.
While opposition parties, including the Congress, want Modi to clarify his controversial remark against his predecessor in Parliament, the ruling BJP is showing no signs to take up the matter seriously.
On Tuesday, top leaders of the BJP and the opposition parties held meetings to resolve the impasse in Rajya Sabha over Modi's "conspiracy with Pakistan" remark against Singh during the Gujarat poll campaign, but the stalemate on the issue continued.
Opposition leaders met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar and his deputy Vijay Goel in Parliament and sought a resolution of the issue.
They demanded that the PM should clarify his remarks in the Rajya Sabha. The half-an-hour meeting in Jaitley's chamber was attended by Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma, besides opposition leaders Ramgopal Yadav, Satish Misra, D Raja and others.
After the meeting, Jaitley separately met Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Azad in the latter's chamber. Earlier, before the House commenced, the Congress leaders had also met Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu for the resolution of the issue with the Vice President suggesting that the matter is resolved between the opposition parties and the government sitting across the table.
Azad also raised the issue in the House after which Naidu suggested that the two sides sit together and resolve the issue. The leader of the House Jaitley agreed to do so and the two meetings with the opposition parties followed.
"The meeting has been held. Opposition leaders have given their proposition to the government," Congress leader Anand Sharma told reporters.
"We are still waiting whether the justifiable demand of the opposition parties is acceptable to the PM so that we can bring a closure to the controversy which was painful, which was of his creation and was entirely avoidable," he said.
Sharma said the PM has said something which in their view is a constitutional transgression because he holds the office of the PM.
"To say anything that casts aspersions which are insidious on the former PM who held his office with distinction for 10 years, former VP, former Army chief and distinguished diplomats, they all are deeply anguished and they cannot speak for themselves," he said.
Sharma said the Opposition has been asking the government and the PM to clarify and restore the dignity of both his office and of the political narrative of the country.
"We can request him, we can demand, but it is up to him whether to redeem what he should believe or not...," he said. The Rajya Sabha, however, functioned on Tuesday after the Chairman said the issue would be resolved.
Opposition members raised slogans and sought an apology. Azad said the PM should come to the House and clarify what he said, as his charges that his predecessor was "conspiring" with Pakistan was "a big issue".
Azad said allegations are levelled during elections but some are not good for democracy, politics and the country. "Such allegations are deadly for those against whom they are made," he said, adding that Singh's integrity and loyalty to the country have been questioned.
"Is he the person who is conspiring against the Indian state? Are the former PM and former VP not loyal to the country? These allegations are made by no less than the PM.
"The PM of India should come to the House and explain his remarks and if the former PM and others are proved wrong, then action should be taken against them," he told the House amid vociferous protests by Congress members, who raised slogans of "maafi mango" (apologise).
Naidu, while talking about his morning meeting with Congress leaders, said, "My suggestion was (that) it is not good for the country to see that the House is not running properly."
"All things can be internally discussed...and dignity of Parliament should be maintained," he said. Azad said, "It is a matter of privilege. It should also be to the satisfaction of Singh."
Earlier, Singh had met Naidu and expressed his concerns to him. "I have talked to him and have understood what he meant. I have also received a note of what exactly he said and also what was said about the PM by others...calling names," Naidu said, adding that the PM is the PM of the country and that has to be kept in mind by everybody.
Sharma said, "He is the PM and we are conscious of the dignity of the office of PM, which we want him to restore."
"We are waiting in what manner the PM seeks to address because it is not in the interest of the country or Indian democracy that a serving PM casts insidious aspersions on his immediate predecessor," he said.
Earlier, the former PM issued a statement against Modi asking him to apologise to the nation for his controversial remarks. However, the BJP rejected the demand reiterating that the PM was not wrong.
The PM and other BJP leaders alleged that during a dinner party at the house of now-suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar in the national capital a few weeks ago, senior Congress leaders, including Singh, and others along with Pakistani diplomats hatched a conspiracy to influence the Gujarat polls.
Now, it has to be seen whether the PM in Parliament clarifies his controversial remarks to bring a closure to the issue which otherwise could prove costly for the smooth functioning of both the Houses in the coming days.