Opposition raises Art of Living event in Rajya Sabha

RSTV Bureau

rstv3On Thursday morning, a united Opposition cornered the government in the Rajya Sabha over the Art of Living event which is scheduled to take place on the banks of Yamuna.

The Opposition slammed the government for allowing the Indian Army to be used for a private event of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living foundation. They further claimed that the event which was set to be held on the ecologically fragile flood plains of Yamuna was an environmental disaster.

Art of Living Foundation is scheduled to hold its World Culture Festival from March 11 to March 13 on the banks of Yamuna. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was initially supposed to attend the event in East Delhi.

“Can Indian Army be roped in to assist a private function… it is highly irregular … for Army to be called in to create facilities for a private function,” asked CPI(M) member Sitaram Yechury.

JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav slammed the government for constructing a temporary structure on the flood plains of Yamuna. He wanted to know “under what pressure was Indian Army deployed to build pontoon bridge for one person?”

rstv2Leader of the Opposition in the House, Ghulam Nabi Azad said he was not against ‘Art of Living’ foundation or any cultural festival but was concerned about environment, bio-diversity and ecology.

Azad attacked the government for championing the cause of environment at the Paris summit but not paying heed to what was happening in the capital.
“Who issued permission to build pontoon bridge,” questioned Azad.

The government defended the Art of Living guru Sri Sri Ravishankar by saying that his intentions cannot be doubted as he was committed to protecting the environment. The government further argued that the issue cannot be raised in the House as it was being heard by the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

The programme was “being conducted with all permissions and is not illegal,” said Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

Governments defence didn’t satisfy the Opposition members and they rushed to the Well of the House, forcing a brief adjournment in the Upper House.

(With inputs from PTI)