New Delhi: A united Opposition on Friday sought an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for calling them "supporters of blackmoney, as they forced two adjournments of proceedings in Rajya Sabha till afternoon.
Congress, Bahujan Samaaj Party and Trinamnool Congress members rushed into the Well of the Upper House shouting slogans demanding an apology from the prime minister for his remarks, while the ruling benches matched them with slogans praising of Modi, creating a pandemonium forcing Deputy Chairman P J Kurien to adjourn the proceedings till noon. When the House met again, similar scenes continued forcing another adjournment till 2.30 pm.
Immediately after the Upper House mourned the death of its former member Dipen Ghosh, BSP chief and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati was up on her feet saying the prime minister had this morning "wrongly accused opposition of holding blackmoney" and demanded that he should apologise for his remarks. Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said when it was made very clear by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and others during debate on demonetisation on Thursday that the opposition is against blackmoney, how can Modi make such allegations.
"How can Prime Minister level such an allegation... we are against blackmoney. Prime Minister must apologise," he said as Congress and other opposition members trooped into the Well of House, raising slogans like "Pradhan mantri maafi mango (prime minister apologise)."
Amid the din, Kurien got the listed papers laid. He said a notice under rule 267 seeking suspension of business to take up discussion on ban on 500 and 1000 rupee notes has been received from Azad. "I am ready to admit that motion provided you are ready for discussion," he said.
Azad said his notice was conditional upon the prime minister coming to the House and listening to the entire debate and replying to it.
He said when Modi on Thursday had come to Rajya Sabha, "I had on behalf of the entire opposition welcomed him" and also asked whether he had come to participate in the demonetisation debate or in the Question Hour."
Kurien said it had been clarified on Thursday by Leader of the House Arun Jaitley that the Prime Minister will come and intervene in the debate. But Azad disagreed, saying "we were promised that Prime Minister will be in the House till the debate is over" but Modi did not return after lunch hour.
"Prime Minister says opposition is favouring blackmoney. This is an insult of the House and of the Opposition. When we have said we are against blackmoney, when the entire Opposition has said the same, how can he say that. Prime Minister should apologise," he said.
Mayawati said Modi has stated that if opposition was given 72 hours before demonetising high denomination currency, they should not have opposed him and instead praised him. Painting the entire Opposition as those blackmoney is a lie, she said, adding that the Prime Minister has to apologise for his remarks.
Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said Modi has levelled a serious allegation and should apologise. Ramgopal Yadav (SP) said there could not be anything more shameful than the Prime Minister alleging that the entire Opposition was a supporter of blackmoney.
Derek O'Brien (TMC) said there was a good debate yesterday where everyone had opposed blackmoney. And the now Prime Minister is saying "he is a saint and we are all devils", he said, also demanding an apology from Modi.
Kurien tried to reason with members for starting a debate but the Opposition members shouted slogans demanding an apology from Prime Minister. BJP members too countered them by raising slogans supporting Modi.
As the pandemonium continued, Kurien adjourned the proceedings till noon and then till 2.30 pm.