New Delhi/Nagpur: The Rajya Sabha on Monday witnessed a brief uproar by opposition members over alleged remarks by Manohar Parrikar against actor Aamir Khan, even as the defence minister denied having said what was been quoted to him.
During the Zero Hour, Derek O’Brien (Trinamool Congress) raised the issue of ‘dangerous’ rise in religious fundamentalism in the country, saying the government, ministers and people associated with the ruling party were ‘shooting their mouths off every day’.
“The prime minister needs to come and say these are in fact mistakes, this is not thinking of the government. The prime minister come here and assure us that we can live in the India we know — Unity in Diversity,” he said.
As soon as he finished his Zero Hour mention, Leader of Opposition and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad quoted a report which said ‘Parrikar takes swipe at actor Aamir; Those who speak like this must be taught a lesson’.
“So may I ask him (Parrikar, who was sitting in the House) what lesson he is going to teach us…The entire nation should be told what type of action and lesson he is going to teach the minorities of this country,” Azad said.
To this, Parikar said: “I would only say one thing. Let the members see the video…and make up their mind.”
However, this did not pacify the agitated Opposition.
Sitaram Yechury (Communist Party of India-Marxist) said what the minister had said was ‘highly objectionable’.
“It is a matter that borders on the question of privilege. Tomorrow you are going to threaten me … you will say there will be a social boycott, we will make them withdraw what they have said,” he said.
Deputy Chairman P J Kurien tried to pacify the members. “Minister says please see the video. It means he has not said (as quoted in media).”
Parrikar said he did not take anyone’s name. “What is quoted is not what I have said. I never took the name of anyone, nor threatened anyone,” the defence minister said.
Recent reports had quoted Parrikar as saying that anyone speaking against the country must be ‘taught a lesson’ while referring to alleged anti-national sloganeering at the Jawaharlal Nehru University earlier this year as well as remarks by an ‘actor’ who ‘had said that his wife wants to live out of India’.
Ram Gopal Yadav (Samajwadi Party) said he has seen the video in question and whatever the minister has said is a ‘direct threat’ to the minorities of the country.
Azad again said if Parrikar had threatened Pakistan, everybody would have been with him.
Amid uproar, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party- led government has assumed office at the Centre, religious minorities, especially the Muslims, have been targeted.
“Now, atrocities against the Dalits are on rise. We want the prime minister to come in the House and respond,” she said.
Azad said that an MP can be ‘pardoned’, but the defence minister or the home minister are supposed to protect the territorial integrity of the country.
“Is this the way of protecting territorial integrity of the country? You are alienating your own people,” said the Leader of Opposition.
As the uproar continued, Kurien said members could give a notice for discussion on the issue. He also said if a minister has given a provocative statement, there are rules to deal with it.
On a lighter vein, the deputy chairman also said he was ready to spend money from his own pocket to supply rule book to every member.
Earlier, soon after listed papers were laid on the table, Anand Sharma (Congress) tried to raise the issue of continued attacks on Dalits and Muslims by cow vigilantes.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said, should come and give a statement in the House on the issue.
Last week during a discussion on the issue, a minister had intervened but outside the Parliament he had praised the organisation involved in the attack, Sharma said, adding the prime minister ‘should come and explain,’ he said.