Sonia-led charge prompts Advani to withdraw remark

Sonia-led charge prompts Advani to withdraw remark

BJP leader L.K. Advani on Wednesday created a storm in the Lok Sabha by dubbing UPA-II as “illegitimate”, but withdrew it after strong protests from the Congress.

Mr. Advani, who came under carping attack with Congress President Sonia Gandhi leading from the front, later said he was referring to the 2008 confidence vote for which “crores of rupees were spent” to save the government.

There was ruckus in the House soon after Mr. Advani spoke of the UPA-II as illegitimate while initiating a debate on the violence in Assam after Speaker Meira Kumar admitted an adjournment motion on the subject.

“The UPA-II is illegitimate. It has never happened in the history of India ... crores of rupees were never spent to get votes,” Mr. Advani said, provoking the Treasury benches.

As an angry Ms. Gandhi was seen strongly objecting to the remark and apparently demanding withdrawal of the comment, Leader of Lok Sabha Sushil Kumar Shinde appealed to him to withdraw the words.

“Advani is a senior leader. We all respect him. But today he has said the entire (2009) election was illegitimate. This is an insult for all of us. I think he should withdraw his words,” Mr. Shinde said in his first intervention as the Leader of the House.

The Speaker also reminded Mr. Advani that she had allowed adjournment motion as people were concerned about the situation in Assam. “But one word used by you has hurt the sentiments of everyone. If you want, you can withdraw it.”

Mr. Advani admitted that he made a mistake by speaking about UPA-II and what he actually intended to say was the 2008 vote of confidence secured during the UPA-I. “My comments were on the confidence vote and not on election. ... Those who were whistleblowers were sent to jail,” he said.

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