Laughter, smiles cool heat in Parliament

Laughter, smiles cool heat in Parliament

Hard bargain, light banter

The Opposition was suddenly lifted when veterans exchanged light-hearted comments and allowed the House “a broad smile,” if no peels of laughter.

Always clever with his language, Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy took a cheeky single when he chose to describe his erstwhile Janata Dal colleague and RJD leader Lalu Prasad as “My Sexy Friend”.

Reddy was speaking in the House on Thursday before introducing the bill providing extension of metro rail services to all metropolitan cities. Prasad was insisting that all the metro projects be handled by the Railway Ministry and not by the state governments.

Reddy, known for coining new mind-tickling expressions, looked in the direction of Prasad and began his speech by saying “My Sexy friend Lalu Ji”. There was a bout of laughter with the RJD president remaining poker-faced. After a while, however, he interrupted the minister and clarified: “I am not your sexy friend.” And none in the House could afford not to laugh. Reddy, of course, also took “the point of order” and proceeded with his business.

There were occasions when the main Opposition did not let go a chance to score a point over the ruling dispensation with the latter also allowing the BJP its share of “happiness”.

The House was in the process of amending the Rubber Act, 1947, to change the definition of ‘small growers’, when the BJP sighted the absence of the commerce ministers concerned in the House.

Cabinet Minister Anand Sharma was in South Korea for the signing of a new trade agreement, and Minister of State Jyotiraditya Scindia was in Indonesia. The saffron side refused to go ahead, a right by tradition.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal argued there were at least two precedents when the minister concerned was not present, but bills were passed.

An unrelenting BJP leader Sushama Swaraj cut short the minister saying: “If the Opposition was not alert earlier, it doesn’t mean it now has to sit idle.” The treasury benches let the BJP have its way — the bill was postponed till the next session.

Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who is usually sedate, also indirectly lighted up the House with his “friendly remonstrance.” Concluding his response to the price rise debate, the Maratha strongman on Friday asked the “three Yadavs” to let the House proceedings continue without interruptions. The minister was clearly pointing to Mulayam, Lalu and Sharad Yadav who were demanding action against hoarders of food grains. The otherwise strident three-some kept their cool and smiled back. Pawar, of course, returned the smile.