Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Rajya Sabha sees verbal skirmishes

Opposition presses for JPC probe on Adani issue

Verbal skirmishes between treasury and opposition benches that forced frequent interventions by the Chair marked the proceedings in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday as the opposition parties targeted the government on the Adani issue pressing for a JPC probe.
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the House during the debate on the Motion of Thanks on the President’s address, opposition members referred to allegations against the Adani group made by Hindenburg Research and made several insinuations, prompting Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar to repeatedly ask them to authenticate the charges by end of the day.
Dhankhar urged the members to maintain dignity and not make wild allegations unless authenticated with evidence. Members of the treasury benches also asked the opposition MPs to authenticate the charges made in the House.
Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge led the charge, demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the allegations against Adani, and asked why the government was “shying away” from an investigation.
Kharge also invoked Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s ‘raj dharma’ remark made post-2002 Gujarat riots, sparking a heated exchange with BJP members who accused him of quoting the former prime minister “partly to suit their convenience”.
Leader of the House Piyush Goyal and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also opposed Kharge’s remarks made during his speech and asked him to authenticate the allegations.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will reply to the debate at 2 pm on Thursday.
Leaders of BRS, AAP and Shiv Sena (Thackeray) earlier walked out of the House in protest after their adjournment notices on the Adani issue were denied by the Chairman who found no merit in them.
Congress member KC Venugopal also alleged the government is running away from an investigation by a JPC on the allegations against the Adani Group as it wants to “hide something”.
Leaders from different Opposition parties demanded a JPC probe on the Hindenburg-Adani issue and many alleged that the President’s speech missed out key issues especially the “attacks” on minority Muslims, price rise and unemployment, and demanded a caste-based census.
Amid a fiery debate, Rajya Sabha on Wednesday also witnessed rare moments of collective mirth when Kharge, during his speech, praised Chairman Dhankhar’s work as a lawyer and recalled that the vice president once told him that in his early years as an advocate he used to count cash with his hands, but as his career took off he bought a ‘cash counting machine’.
“I did not say this. I think you will get a JPC (joint parliamentary committee) set on me,” Dhankhar told the Congress president as the House broke into peals of laughter over the exchange between the two veterans.
Kharge also said that Prime Minister Modi was targeting even his home constituency Kalaburagi in poll-bound Karnataka by addressing public rallies not once but twice, bringing a smile to Modi.
Leader of the House Piyush Goyal also quipped that Kharge was wearing a Louis Vuitton scarf and a JPC probe cannot be instituted on individual cases.


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