Riled UPA members force Advani to retract 'illegitimate' remark
LS Speaker requests BJP leader to withdraw the comment
Parliament’s Monsoon Session had a stormy start on Wednesday, as BJP veteran L K Advani questioned the legitimacy of the UPA’s second stint in power, triggering angry reactions from the Congress and its allies in the ruling coalition.
After being criticized within the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance for virtually conceding defeat in the 2014 parliamentary polls, Advani sought to make a turnaround and set the tone for his party’s offensive against the Congress-led Government for the Monsoon Session of Parliament.
Even as his comment on the legitimacy of the ruling coalition’s second stint in power united the UPA in protest, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh later termed the remark as “disgraceful and unfortunate”.
Advani made the controversial remark while moving an adjournment motion on the violence in western Assam.
Amid the war of words between the Treasury and Opposition benches, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar requested Advani to withdraw the comment that the Home Minister and the new Leader of House, Sushil Kumar Shinde, as well as Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Pawan Bansal, termed as an insult to the people of the country.
Advani withdrew the remark, stating that he had only wanted to refer to the trust vote that the UPA-I Government had won in the Lok Sabha on July 22, 2008.
“I have withdrawn and I have said that my references were to the Confidence Motion and not to the 2009 elections,” said Advani. He recalled the incident in which three BJP MPs had displayed bundles of currency notes in the House just before the trust vote on the India-US nuke deal, alleging that they had received to money to support the UPA Government in the trial of strength.
Uproar in House
The BJP leader’s clarification failed to pacify the UPA MPs and the uproar continued till the Speaker adjourned the House for lunch.
The ruckus over the remark of Advani saw a visibly angry Congress president Sonia Gandhi leading the MPs of her party and its allies to take on the BJP veteran.
T R Baalu of the Dravida Munnethra Kazhagam, Somen Mitra of the Trinamool Congress joined the Congress MPs Sanjay Nirupam and Adhir Choudhury to protest against the BJP leader’s remark.
Bansal said Advani violated the rules of the proceedings of Lok Sabha by making the comment on the legitimacy of the UPA-II Government while moving the adjournment motion on the violence in Assam.
“You can't call governments illegitimate because governments are elected by the people of the country and it is an upfront both to Parliament and people of India,” Sibal later told reporters outside the Parliament House.
Advani had created a flutter in his own party as well as among its allies in the NDA last Sunday, when he wrote in his blog that a government headed by a non-Congress and non-BJP Prime Minister was feasible after the 2014 polls.
Bal Thackeray, the supremo of the BJP-ally Shiv Sena, later stated that the Advani’s
remark in his blog was demoralizing for the NDA and was akin to conceding defeat “even before entering the boxing ring.”
But the ruckus on his remark in Lok Sabha on Wednesday saw the NDA MPs, led by the Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, all rallying behind Advani.
“We want to know from the Prime Minister: Was cash-for votes scam graceful? Was 2G spectrum scam graceful? Was CWG scam graceful?” said BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussien, reacting to the prime minister’s comment on the
remark by Advani.