Mallikarjun Kharge calls PM Modi Mauni Baba for his alleged silence on ‘hate-spreading’ colleagues

Rajya Sabha chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar objects to the usage and chides the Congress president for casting aspersions on PM

February 08, 2023 10:00 pm | Updated February 09, 2023 08:27 am IST - New Delhi

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge speaking at a debate during the Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi on February 8, 2023.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge speaking at a debate during the Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi on February 8, 2023. | Photo Credit: ANI

Congress president and Rajya Sabha leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of keeping “mum” on the actions of his ministerial colleagues who spread hatred, branding him as Mauni Baba (silent seer). Quick to interject, Vice President and Rajya Sabha chairman Jadgeep Dhankhar objected to such usage, chiding Mr. Kharge that it doesn’t “suit his stature to deploy such language.

Mr. Kharge’s 80-minute address was punctuated by multiple interventions from the treasury benches and objections from Mr. Dhankhar.

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In his speech, Mr. Kharge, while replying to the President’s address in Rajya Sabha, accused the government of distilling every conversation to communal question and alleged that it is the responsible ministers themselves who are spreading hatred. He asked, “I want to ask the Prime Minister, why are you silent? You scare everyone, why can’t you scare your ministers who are spreading hatred?” He added that “if the Prime Minister was to ‘glare’ at his ministers for this offence, they will for the fear of losing the BJP ticket in the next election and toe the line”. He asked, “Why have you become Mauni Baba (silent seer)?”

Objecting to the comment, Mr. Dhankhar immediately intervened. “It does not suit your stature. Frankly speaking, there are certain positions for which we have to have great regard. It was in this House on December 8, I said the leader of the House, LoP, and two former PMs will speak, I will look to the rule book later. Why? These positions have an August stand”.

With repeated objections from the Chair to his speech, Mr. Kharge wondered if he is being taught how to speak at the end of such a long Parliamentary career.

Referring to Prime Minister’s anti-corruption slogan- Na Khaonga, Na Khane Dunga (This roughly translates into: won’t take a cut and won’t let others take a cut), Mr. Kharge asked, “I want to ask the Prime Minister, why is he feeding a select few industrialists? ” He added, “Wealth of one of the closest friends of PM Modi increased by 13 times in 2.5 years. In 2014, it was ₹50,000 crore while in 2019 it became ₹1 lakh crore. What magic happened that suddenly in two years assets worth ₹12 lakh crore came, is it due to favour of friendship?”

The comment created an uproar. Once again objecting to the comment, Mr. Dhankhar said, “unsubstantiated allegations” and “aspersions’” should not be made. Leader of House Piyush Goyal interjected to point out that the “purported wealth” is just valuation in the market “Prime Minister Modi’s association with Adani has “no basis whatsoever”, he added.

Unrelenting in his attack on the government, Congress president Mr. Kharge, then demanded a probe into the Hindenburg report. “If the Prime Minister is not scared of anything, why should he be scared of a joint parliamentary probe on the Adani-Hindenburg row,” he said. The comment threw the House into chaos with loud protests from the treasury benches. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also intervened saying that Mr. Kharge’s speech is marked with “insinuations” against the Prime Minister.

Expressing disapproval about the reference to the Hindenburg report, interjecting Mr. Dhankhar said, “Are we supposed to believe any random report from any corner of the world? My suggestion is, let us believe in ourselves, our strengths, and our institutions.”

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