Azad compares alleged death due to demonetization to those who died in Uri, govt dubs comment 'anti-national'

New Delhi: Heated exchanges broke between treasury and opposition benches as BJP took objection to Leader of Opposition and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad's statement that more people died due to government's decision on demonetization than those killed in Pakistani terrorist firing in Uri.

Terming the Azad's remark as "anti national", I and B Minister Naidu demanded that the entire Congress party should apologise and also asked Deputy Chairman P J Kurien to expunge the statement.

No sooner the House met again, AIADMK members trooped into the Well. In an effort to raise the demonetization controversy, Azad said Congress has no differences with AIADMK and would participate in the discussion on the matter being raised by it.

"Don't fall in the trap of BJP. This (protest in the Well) is directly associating you (AIADMK) with BJP," Azad said, as treasury bench members objected. The Leader of Opposition said 40 people had died following government's decision on demonetization. Even lesser number of people had died in firing by Pakistani terrorists in Uri, he said. "Who should be punished" for the death of these 40 people due to "wrong policy" on demonetization, Azad asked and added that "millions of people are troubled. BJP and Government is responsible."

Azad's reference to Pakistan drew massive objection from the treasury benches with many BJP members seen shouting back at the Congress benches. "It is an anti-national statement. Pakistan will use this statement. You want to give a certificate to Pakistan," Naidu said, and asked that "entire (Congress) party should apologise" as it was a very "atrocious statement". He also demanded that the statement should be expunged from the records.

Deputy Chairman P J Kurien asked Azad if he would like to respond to Naidu.

To this, Azad said he was only referring to the number of people who had died due to the government's decision on demonetization. "We face Pakistan's fire round the clock. You attend their weddings," Azad said in an apparent reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's sudden visit to Lahore to attend the marriage ceremony of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's kin in December last year.

In the meantime, Congress members also entered the Well.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar tried to make a statement, but could not be heard amid the din. Kurien tried to continue the debate on demonetization, but as his repeated attempts failed, he adjourned the House for the day.

Noisy debate throughout the day

Earlier there was massive pandemonium in Rajya Sabha through out the day. When the House reassembled at 1130 hours. AIADMK members again trooped into the Well, followed by their Congress counterparts. BSP chief Mayawati was seen standing her seat as were several members of SP and Left parties. Naidu rose to make a statement but he could not be heard in the din caused by AIADMK and Congress members in the Well. Kurien expunged certain references to the Prime Minister made by some opposition members.

"Prime Minister cannot be referred to like that. Reference to Prime Minister is expunged," he said, as he tried to pacify members raising slogans in the Well. "I don't know why are you shouting," Kurien said.

As his efforts to bring order in the House did not bear fruit, Kurien adjourned the House till noon. The Question Hour in Rajya Sabha at noon was also washed out due to continued uproar by opposition members, many of whom were in the Well raising slogans.

As soon as the House met at noon, members of Congress, BSP, RJD and TMC trooped into the Well shouting slogans and demanding the presence of the Prime Minister in the House to listen to the grievances of the people due to the demonetization move being raised by the MPs. The AIADMK members were also in the Well shouting slogans and demanding the constitution of the Cauvery Management Board. Repeated requests by Chairman Hamid Ansari to allow the Question Hour failed to yield result, after which he adjourned the House initially till 12:30 hours.

When the House met again, similar uproarious scenes were again witnessed, forcing Ansari to adjourn the House till 2PM.

When the House reassembled at 2 pm, members from Congress, BSP and AIADMK again trooped into the Well amid demands by almost entire opposition for the presence of the Prime Minister in the House during the debate on demonetization. "Pradhan Mantri House me aao, Pradhan Mantri Hazir ho (Prime Minister come to the House, Prime Minister present himself before the House)," shouted the opposition members.

Some of them said that after forcing the entire nation to stand in queues, where is the PM.

Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said, "I cannot direct any Minister. It is a discussion on demonetization, Finance Minister is the concerned Minister and he is here." When the uproar continued, Kurien said, "The point is you (members) should be clear that discussion was demanded by members. It is a discussion on demonetization." He said the discussion for five hours yesterday was fruitful and the Finance Minister was in the House throughout.

It, however, failed to bring order in the House. Naresh Agarwal (SP), who was listed to speak in the resumed discussion on demonetization, demanded to know where the PM was. He quipped that Modi should come to House if he is not in the queue for withdrawing money.

Amid the din, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said it was unfortunate that opposition was busy in disrupting the House as they were "left with no logic". He appealed to the opposition to participate in the debate in a constructive manner and that the "Finance Minister will reply to all your queries and no query will remain unanswered." However, as the disruptions continued, Kurien adjourned the House till 3 pm saying, "As far as the Chair is concerned, Finance Minister is here...I am adjourning the House till 3 pm."

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