The government and the opposition on Tuesday held meetings to resolve the impasse in Rajya Sabha over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “conspiracy with Pak” remark against his predecessor Manmohan 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 prime minister 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 be resolved between the opposition 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. Leader of the House Arun Jaitley agreed to do so and the two meetings with the opposition 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 is acceptable to the prime minister 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 prime minister has said something which in their view is a constitutional transgression because he holds the office of the prime minister.
“To say anything that casts aspersions which are insidious on the former prime minister who held his office with distinction for 10 years, former vice president, 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 prime minister 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 today after the Chairman said the issue would be resolved.
Opposition members raised slogans and sought an apology.
Azad said the prime minister 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 Manmohan Singh’s integrity and loyalty to the country has been questioned.
“Is he the person who is conspiring against the Indian state? Is the former prime minister, former vice president not loyal to the country? These allegations are made by no less than the prime minister.
“The prime minister of India should come to the House and explain his remarks and if the former prime minister 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 Manmohan Singh.” Azad said.
Earlier, Manmohan 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 prime minister by others…calling names,” Naidu said, adding that the prime minister is the prime minister of the country and that has to be kept in mind by everybody.
Sharma said, “He is the Prime Minister and we are conscious of dignity of the office of Prime Minister, which we want him to restore.”
“We are waiting in what manner the Prime Minister seeks to address because it is not in the interest of the country or Indian democracy that a serving Prime Minister casts insidious aspersions on his immediate predecessor,” he said.