Elders object to Aiyar's remark, seek apology

Members in Rajya Sabha belonging to various parties today raised strong objections to reported comments of Mani Shankar Aiyar comparing MPs shouting slogans in the Well with animals and demanded an apology.

An apparently embarrassed Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla tendered an immediate apology on behalf of Aiyar and informed the House that he will talk to him in this regard.

As members pressed for summoning the Congress member and referring the matter to the Ethics Committee of Parliament, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien hoped he will come and explain his position in the House.

He said, "If that does not happen, then there is a course of action...The Chair will examine the matter."

Earlier raising the matter soon after Question Hour, members of BJP, SP, BSP and Left parties were on their feet condemning Aiyar's remarks and demanding action against him.

Aiyar, during a television debate on logjam in Parliament on FDI, had reportedly made the remarks.

As members attacked the ruling party over Aiyar's remarks, Shukla sought to pacify them saying, "It is not a good thing. If he has said so then in my opinion it is totally inappropriate. I will talk to him and if he apologises, it will be good."

This was objected to by Naresh Agrawal (SP), who demanded an apology from Aiyar minus any ifs and buts..."If he does not apologise then action should be taken against him," he said.

Shukla said, "First of all, I apologise if he has made any such remarks...I will tell him to come and apologise to members if he has said so."

Kurien also said that since Aiyar is not present in the House, he should be given an opportunity to come and explain what he said.

As members persisted with their demand to refer the issue to the Ethics Committee of Parliament noting that Aiyar's statement amounted to breach of privilege, Kurien told them to give a notice in this regard.

Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) urged the Chair "you put it on record that the Privilege Committee will look into it".

Deputy Leader of BJP in the Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad and his colleagues Balbir Punj and Rajiv Pratap Rudy said the statement coming from a politician who had also been a diplomat and once got the best Parliamentarian award is unfortunate.

"If a person like him makes such a remark, it is unfortunate and a matter of privillege...we are talking about insult to the House," Rudy said.

Aiyar is not new to controversies. At the height to the Commonwealth Games controversies, he had said he wished the sport event turned out to be a failure. He had also compared it with a circus.

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