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Modi’s remark in Upper House expunged after Cong protests

| | New Delhi

In a rare case, Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu embarrassed Prime Minister Narendra Modi by expunging a controversial remark made by him on the floor of the House.

The PM had made the ‘controversial’ comments on Thursday while referring to BK Hariprasad (Congress), who lost to NDA’s Harivansh in the contest for the post of Deputy Chairperson of the Upper House. While felicitating the newly elected Deputy Chairman Harivansh, the PM said the election was between “two Haris” and played on the Opposition candidate BK Hariprasad’s initials. The Congress criticised the PM’s wordplay involving the parliamentarian’s name.

Naidu had announced in the House that he will look into the remarks and see if there was something objectionable. Remarks made by the PM are rarely expunged. The chairman also expunged a comment made by Union Minister Ramdas Athawale during the felicitations. Modi took a swipe at Hariprasad, playing on his initials (BK), which was seen as derogatory and infuriated the Congress.

Immediately after, he praised Hariprasad for doing his bit to protect the dignity of democracy in a lost battle. Hariprasad said it was unfortunate that the PM had lowered the dignity of the House.

While BJP leaders called it an example of Naidu’s fairness and non-partisanship, the Congress said the PM’s words, spoken as part of a congratulatory speech on the floor of the House, were ill-chosen and unseemly.

“I think it becomes a massive shame for this country. The PM himself uses unparliamentary expressions in any House of Parliament,” said Congress MP Shashi Tharoor.

“I think Modi is a very fine speaker and rhetorician. He prides himself on being able to find play of words on everything and I think that should be applauded. We need some creativity of expression but at the same time, there are some limits that must not be crossed and very sadly it is clear that these limits have been crossed,” he added.

Sources said it may not be the first instance of a PM’s comments being expunged. In 2013, after a sharp exchange in Parliament between then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Arun Jaitley, who was in the Opposition, some words used by both of them were deleted.

 
 
 
 
 

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