Controversial remarks by Union Minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti on Tuesday rocked Parliament with Rajya Sabha being paralysed for the day as a united opposition insisted on her sacking despite her apology.
“A mere apology will not suffice. She will have to resign,” was the refrain of the Opposition members who stormed into the Well demanding her sacking.
Soon after both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha met for the day, opposition members created uproar over Jyoti allegedly making communal remarks and using an expletive in an election rally and demanded that she should be sacked. They also sought an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Members of Congress, TMC, SP and other opposition parties rushed to the Well leading to repeated adjournments in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha during pre-lunch sitting.
When Rajya Sabha reassembled at 2 PM after four adjournments, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury cited a Supreme Court as well as a Calcutta High Court order to drive home the point that mere apology was not enough and an FIR should be filed against her and she should be sacked.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi sought to calm down the Opposition by contending that Jyoti has already apologised and the matter should be put to rest in keeping with tradition.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is also Leader of the Rajya Sabha said Jyoti’s remarks were “improper and unacceptable”.
He, however, said the House cannot decide whether her action was criminal in nature and it should be left for the agencies outside the House.
In her regrets, she said, “My intention was not to hurt anyone. If my speech outside the House has hurt anyone, I express my deep regrets and accept…”
Even this failed to satisfy the agitated members as they continued to create uproar demanding apology from the Prime Minister as well.
Seeking to mollify the agitated members in Lok Sabha, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said it was a “serious” matter and the minister concerned wanted to express regrets in the House.
Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge reminded Speaker Sumitra Mahajan of the adjournment notices given by him and his party colleagues over the reported statement of the minister as well as certain remarks made by another minister Giriraj Singh in past.
Kharge said the “objectionable” language used by Jyoti has created tension at a time when there have been communal riots.
Several Congress and Trinamool Congress members rushed to the Well shouting slogans.
Jyotiraditya Scindia (Cong), who led the opposition attack, was appreciated by Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, who was seen patting him after the minister expressed regret.
In Rajya Sabha, government had a tough time in mollifying the agitated members from Congress, Left, Samajwadi Party, RJD and Bahujan Samaj Party as many of them said they were not satisfied with an apology and wanted her to resign while a few also demanded registration of an FIR against her.
The House saw two brief adjournments during Zero Hour and another two during Question Hour. The Lok Sabha saw one brief adjournment.
Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said the issue is not about one minister and recalled that another minister Giriraj Singh had also some time back had made controversial comments.
“They should understand that they have got only 30 per cent of votes. 70 per cent of people have voted the Opposition,” he said as he also made a brief reference of burning of a church in Dilshad Garden area in Delhi, saying such an incident had happened here for the first time in last 70 years.
Members from Opposition parties like Anand Sharma (Cong), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), Ram Gopal Yadav (SP), D Raja (CPI) and Sharad Yadav (JD-U) were unanimous in demanding that the Minister’s remarks were “unconstitutional” and she should be sacked from the Cabinet.