NEW DELHI — The second half of the budget session was off to a rocky start on Monday, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi told reporters that he was hoping for a "productive" session. It started with the Congress creating an uproar over a racist remark made by BJP minister Giriraj Singh against Congress chief Sonia Gandhi last month.
The Congress representatives in the Lok Sabha, led by Jyotiraditya Scindia, told the assembly that Singh had to apologise to Gandhi for his statements. They also hauled up Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut for his comments against Muslims. Raut had said last week that voting rights should be taken away from Muslims so they aren't used as vote banks. He later took a u-turn on his statement, saying his comments were misinterpreted.
While Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkiah Naidu agreed with Scindia, he said "the issue raised by Scindia is an important issue. Nobody in the government supports Giriraj Singh's remarks."
While Congress leaders demanded an apology and asked for PM Modi's comments on the issue, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the Lok Sabha for 20 minutes, urging representatives to "stop asking for the PM to intervene for everything".
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi walked in half an hour late on his first day back at work, refusing to speak to media persons as he ran into the Lok Sabha building.
Soon after the Lok Sabha resumed, Union minister Giriraj Singh expressed his regrets for making derogatory comment against Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
"I did not mean to offend anyone by my remarks," Giriraj Singh said. Raut, too, addressed Congress' allegations and denied making any statement against Muslims.
Land Acquisition Bill
The land acquisition amendment ordinance was tabled in the Lok Sabha as Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy laid a copy of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015 amid uproar from the opposition.
The opposition MPs continued to shout out slogans against the land bill as external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj rose to speak on the Yemen rescue mission where hundreds of Indians were safely brought back to their homes.
Amid the ruckus, she congratulated VK Singh's role in the rescue, but her statement was drowned out by opposition voices denouncing the bill.
"I don’t understand, what the Opposition is protesting about when the land Bill hasn't even been tabled yet," said Sumitra Mahajan, while adjourning the session till 2 pm.
Earlier, Congress leaders had made it clear that they would be speaking out against the land ordinance in the Lok Sabha today.
(with agency inputs)