Home Minister P. Chidambaram had the first taste of the BJP-led NDA’s boycott of him in Parliament with the Lok Sabha on Tuesday witnessing a brief but sharp protest from the Opposition when he was called to reply to a question.
The entire BJP rose in unison during the Question Hour when Mr. Chidambaram started replying to the first question in the winter session put by Raghuvansh Prasad Singh (RJD).
Mr. Chidambaram was seated in the first row next to Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
Speaker Meira Kumar, however, adjourned the House till noon as members waved placards and raised slogans on a variety of issues ranging from better prices for cotton to formation of separate Telangana.
The NDA had on Monday decided to boycott Mr. Chidambaram in Parliament, alleging his involvement in the 2G scam during his tenure as Finance Minister. The NDA wants Mr. Chidambaram to quit.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh earlier in the day strongly defended Mr. Chidambaram contending that there was no case for NDA’s call to boycott the Home Minister in Parliament.
“As far as the boycott is concerned, I sincerely hope that the political parties will desist any such temptation. There is virtually no case for a boycott of the type that has been talked about in the newspapers,” Dr. Singh told reporters outside Parliament on the opening day of the session.
BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu said that the NDA would continue to demand his resignation till he quits. “We are demanding that he resign or we will continue to boycott him,” Mr. Naidu told mediapersons.
Asked if BJP was making it a personnel issue, Mr. Naidu said, “There is nothing personnel in this. There is a document which has come into light about the inaction and failure of the then finance minister from stopping the scam to happen.”
He said that after the PMO and Cabinet Secretary endorsed the document, BJP started asking questions and “that is why we are demanding that he should resign or we will continue to boycott him in the Parliament.”
Mr. Naidu said the Congress had also boycotted the then Defence Minister Gorge Fernandes for six months for no fault of him but “this is a case where the PMO, the Cabinet Secretariat and the Finance Ministry have endorsed.”
On whether the BJP would stall Parliamentary proceedings on the issue, Mr. Naidu said, “We are not stalling Parliament. We want it to function...Is Government running because of only one minister? Even in that ministry, there are Ministers of State who can reply to questions in the two Houses.”
On Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement that there was no case for the opposition boycotting the Home Minister, Mr. Naidu said, “The Prime Minister never interferes. No action is his reaction and so, there is nothing surprising in his reaction.”
On the weakening of Rupee against the US dollar, he said this showed mismanagement of the economy by the Government.
Meanwhile, RJD chief Lalu Prasad opposed the boycott of the Home Minister saying, “This is too much."
Keywords: 2G scam