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Modi charm offensive fails in Rajya Sabha

Narendra Modi greets Sharad Yadav and Lok Sabha Deputy SpeakerM. Thambidurai watched by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and senior BJP leader L.K. Advani, during the observation of Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s birth anniversary in the Central Hall of Parliament on Thursday. Photo: Sandeep Saxena  

On the third day of the monsoon session, as an unrelenting opposition continued to stall business in the two Houses, demanding the resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh, the government’s parliamentary managers were hard at work to break the impasse. On Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who holds a daily strategy meeting with top cabinet colleagues before the session starts, stooped – in an effort to conquer.

At 12.05 p.m., seconds after Chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the Rajya Sabha — where the government is in a minority — for a second time in the day over the demands for the resignations of Ms. Swaraj and Mr. Chouhan, Mr. Modi walked in.

For the next four minutes, all eyes were on him. After greeting colleagues on the Treasury Benches, he made it a point to greet every Opposition leader. At 12.09 p.m., Mr. Modi left the House.

But this brief show of bonhomie dissolved post lunch, with the Opposition resuming its tirade and CPI(M) member Sitaram Yechury seeking an apology from Union Minister Arun Jaitley.

After greeting members on the Treasury Benches, Mr Modi walked across to the other side, making it a point to greet every Opposition leader: starting with the Janata Dal (United)’s Sharad Yadav, and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati whom he greeted with folded hands.

He then walked up to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and clasped his hands firmly. The Congress’ Madhusudan Mistry who contested the Lok Sabha elections against Mr. Modi from Vadodara rushed to speak to him, while Congress leader Karan Singh spent the longest time chatting with him.

“I asked him about his Jammu visit, he said he loved it,” Dr. Singh later told The Hindu about his chat with the Prime Minister.

Former UPA Minister Jairam Ramesh sitting in the third row was greeted with a ‘namaste’ and on his way back, the PM stopped for a small chat with D. Raja of the Communist Party of India (CPI). The Congress’s Hanumantha Rao, who was carrying a placard demanding the resignation of the MP CM, got a pat on his shoulder.

However, the opposition remained unrelenting and a meeting called by Leader of the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley of all opposition parties in the break was boycotted: clearly, the PM’s attempt at an icebreaker had failed.

The evidence of that was visible in the House when it commenced business at 2 pm. Opposition MPs were once again on their feet demanding action against Ms. Swaraj, Mr Chauhan and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.

Yechury offensive

The CPI (M)’s Sitaram Yechury then went for the jugular, taking on Mr Jaitley, drawing the Chair’s attention to a statement made by the latter against him: “…It was said on Tuesday, that I am raising objections in order to get a television opportunity. I did not object to this yesterday hoping.. you would expunge it from the record, but, unfortunately, this was not expunged,” Mr. Yechury said.

Deputy chairperson PJ Kurien said he would look into his demand, but Mr. Yechury insisted on an apology.

“…we do not raise objections in Parliament or discharge our responsibilities for TV opportunities. TV opportunities will continue to come… TV owners and anchors will tell you that whenever their ..viewership ratings come down, they always ask me to appear…,” he continued.


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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 3:16:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/modi-charm-offensive-fails-in-rajya-sabha/article7457324.ece

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