Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s jibe at his predecessor, Manmohan Singh, sparked ruckus in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, with Congress lawmakers staging a walkout during the PM’s speech.
Even though many scams took place in the country (in the previous UPA regime), Singh’s image remained clean, Modi said, taking a dig at the former PM. “People should learn from Dr. Singh how to bathe in bathroom wearing a raincoat.”
The entire Congress bench erupted in protests after Modi’s remarks and the PM could not continue his speech for a few minutes. Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari had to repeatedly request opposition leaders to calm down.
But Modi continued to take potshots at Singh, raking up the former PM’s speech on the government’s demonetisation exercise in the Upper House in the previous session.
“We have the ability to pay back in the same coin....If anyone speaks like this, he should also be ready to face the consequences”
Singh said last November that the government’s decision to recall high-value banknotes had been implemented with “monumental mismanagement” that might shave at least 2 percentage points off India’s economic growth rate.
In a strongly worded attack on the government in the Rajya Sabha, Singh said then that several deaths and distress among the poor, farmers and small traders convinced him the demonetisation plan led to “organised loot and legalised plunder”.
“We have the ability to pay back in the same coin,” Modi said, underlining the use of strong words by Singh. “If anyone speaks like this, he should also be ready to face the consequences.”
An angry information and broadcasting minister Venkaiah Naidu supported Modi and shouted that the Congress had earlier described Modi as Hitler as well as Mussolini. The Rajya Sabha was debating the motion of thanks on the President’s speech to the joint session of Parliament.
Modi also wondered if the demonetisation speech by Singh, who was in power for 10 years and is credited with unlocking several years of high growth by opening up the country’s economy in a previous stint as finance minister, was written by someone else.
“I do not want to speak,” Singh told ANI when asked about Modi’s remarks against him.