Piyush Goyal Regrets Calling Selja's Caste Discrimination Comment 'Manufactured'

03/12/2015 4:36 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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NEW DELHI, INDIA - JULY 2: Union Minister of State with Independent Charge for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal during a press conference to brief on cabinet decision at Shastri Bhawan on July 2, 2015 in New Delhi, India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet approved spending nearly US$8 billion over five years to develop infrastructure for rural irrigation to boost crop productivity in a country where farmers rely largely on annual rains. (Photo by Sonu Mehta/ Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

NEW DELHI -- Proceedings in Rajya Sabha were disrupted again today even as Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal expressed regret for his comment on the remarks made by Congress leader Kumari Selja about her entry to a Gujarat temple.

Selja refused to accept the minister's regret and efforts were being made outside the House to resolve the matter through a series of meetings of leaders of various parties with Chairman Hamid Ansari and Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien.

Congress members created uproar soon after the House mourned the death of thousands in the Bhopal gas leakage accident 31 years ago.

The slogan-shouting Congress members trooped into the Well of the House demanding apology by the minister.

"Mafi maango, mafi maango (express apology)," they shouted along with "Constitution ka apman bandh karo, bandh karo (stop insulting the Constitution)."

Selja had alleged that she had faced discrimination at the temple when she visited there as a Union Minister some years back as she was asked about her caste.

She, while participating in a debate on the Constitution on Monday, had alleged that "this was also a form of the Gujarat model", an apparent attack on Narendra Modi.

Commenting on this, Goyal yesterday said it was "manufactured discrimination", leading to uproar because of which the House remained deadlocked for most part of the day.

Today, when Deputy Chairman P J Kurien called Mohd Nadimal Haque (TMC) to raise his zero hour mention, Congress members shouted slogans and stormed the Well.

At his point, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu suggested that House be adjourned for a while for a solution to be arrived at.

When the House re-assembled after 30-minute adjournment, Goyal said, "in view of the Chair's decision to review the records, I regret my remarks with respect to my colleague Kumari Selja."

However, uproar continued with Congress members again storming the Well as Selja refused to accept the minister's regret.

Chairman Hamid Ansari said order should be restored as the minister has expressed regret.

An agitated Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the attitude of Congress members made it clear that they do not want the House to function. "This is not right," he said.

As negotiations were held outside the House, the Rajya Sabha was adjourned repeatedly.

During the brief periods when the House assembled in between the adjournments, Derek O'Brien (TMC) said, "Goyal has withdrawn his statement and expressed regret...Goyal has said something very nice..."

At the same time, he said "there is prelude to that we were expecting".

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu said during the course of the discussion on 'Commitment to the Constitution' certain comments have been made. "One was made on Gujarat model," he noted, explaining the agitating on the ruling side.

Earlier, Kurien said there was a "fruitful" discussion with leaders of the political parties but there remained "only a small hitch" which was to be decided upon in presence of the Chairman.

He said any of the Congress members could have asked what the decision was and he would have communicated what has been decided. "Today I see no provocation," he said as Congress members continued to stay in the well.

As slogan-shouting continued, Kurien said, "I cannot be intimidated...You cannot shout."

He said the behaviour of Congress members was "not just".

Terming their behaviour as "undemocratic", he said, "I condemn it".

O'Brien said a workable solution had been found to the problem yesterday when it was agreed that Leader of the House will say "a few words and the gentleman will than withdraw and regret".

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