Home India Politics BJP seeks PM’s statement on Mamata rally, walks out of Rajya Sabha

BJP seeks PM’s statement on Mamata rally, walks out of Rajya Sabha


New Delhi : The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Tuesday staged a walkout from the Rajya Sabha following an altercation with the treasury benches and seeking a statement from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee’s speech in Maoist-hit Lalgarh.

During her speech in Lalgarh in West Bengal Monday, Banerjee had questioned the manner in which Maoist spokesperson Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad had been killed last month in Andhra Pradesh.

The issue led to the adjournment of the house till 12 noon and when it reassembled, Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley demanded a clarification from the prime minister.

“The prime minister on several occasions has called the Maoists as single largest threat to internal peace. He is the leader of the house and no member can disagree with him,” Jaitley said referring to Banerjee reportedly expressing grief over Azad’s killing July 2.

“A minister is saying that the killing of Azad was staged. Only the prime minister can clear the air on the issue,” Jaitley said, adding: “The principle of collective responsibility has been breached.”

Azad was a member of the central committee of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist). He was gunned down along with a freelance journalist Hem Chandra Pandey.

The issue saw rare unanimity between the BJP and Left party members, who too sought a clarification on Banerjee’s statement.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Prithviraj Chavan said that the government would respond to the issue after collecting the facts.

Jaitley also lamented that the prime minister had been quiet ever since the monsoon session of parliament began two weeks ago.

“The prime minister has chosen to keep quiet on a number of issues including the violence in Kashmir and the Commonwealth Games (irregularities). Silence is a weapon of convenience but the conspiracy of silence is not right,” Jaitley said.

He also alleged the involvement of several top Maoist leaders in the Lalgarh rally.

“The underground Maoist leader Kishenji says people must go and participate. Manoj Mahto, an underground leader, was there carrying the flag of a political party,” Jaitley said, adding: “The top police officer there says Ashish Mahto, who is responsible for the attack on the Gyaneshwari Express, was also there.”

In his response, Chavan said: “The leader of opposition has quoted many newspaper reports. However, government cannot go by newspaper reports. We must ascertain the truth what happened.”

An irked minister also added that it would have been better if the issue was raised during zero hour without disturbing the question hour.

Jaitley’s demand elicited strong protest from Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare and Trinamool Congress member Dinesh Trivedi. Jaitley objected to this, stating that Trivedi was not a member of the house.

As heated exchanges between both sides contiued, the BJP kept demanding a statement from the prime minister and, when this was not forthcoming, its members walked out of the house.