Prime Minister Narendra Modi's statement in Rajya Sabha Thursday strongly criticising his minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti's controversial remarks and requesting the House to function normally failed to placate opposition MPs who continued to press for her resignation.
With opposition parties stalling proceedings in Rajya Sabha for past three days demanding sacking of the minister, Modi appealed to members to allow the House to function in national interest as she has already apologised.
"I was informed about the statement which caused the controversy on the day BJP parliamentary party was to meet. In the meeting I strongly disapproved of the remarks and I said we should avoid using such language," he said.
Leaders should avoid using such language in the heat of elections, he said.
Modi said Jyoti is a first time minister and a new member of Parliament and the House should show magnanimity by accepting her apology considering this.
"When the minister has apologised, I appeal and request the House (to resume normal business)... In national interest, we must carry forward work (of the House)," he said, adding members should maintain decorum.
Modi said he shared the view that after the minister's apology, the matter should be considered closed.
Modi came to the House when it reassembled after a 15-minute adjournment forced by the opposition members demanding resignation of the minister.
As soon as the House met for the day, the entire opposition was on its feet to press for the demand.
As deputy chairman PJ Kurien asked ministers to lay the listed papers, slogan shouting Congress members trooped into the Well.
The slogan shouting continued even after he took up Zero Hour mentions.
With members unrelenting, he adjourned the House for 15 minutes.
When the House reassembled, parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the Prime Minister wants to make a statement and he be allowed to do so.
But the Congress and Left parties ignored Modi's request and stood firm on their demand for the minister's resignation.
"The minister's apology is evidence enough that she has made the controversial remark. She should be sacked from the ministry," CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said.
Congress leader Anand Sharma said the Prime Minister should take strong action against the minister as the Constitution does not permit such utterances.
Finance minister and leader of House Arun Jaitley said the Opposition had been demanding that the Prime Minister come to the House and make a statement. Now that Modi has made the statement, the House should get on to its business, he said.
Yechuri said the minister had not apologised and had merely expressed regret.
"Assuming that she has apologised... you apologise only when you have done some wrong," he said, demanding action against the minister.
In Lok Sabha a determined opposition sought a statement from the Prime Minister as the House witnessed uproar for the third straight day.
Amid protests by the ruling side, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge accused the government of attempting to suppress the opposition through "brute majority".
"The Prime Minister is the leader of all. He is the Prime Minister of the country and only he can control or direct his ministers... The whole country wants that such statements need to be condemned and that is why the entire Opposition is requesting for his statement," Kharge said.
His remarks came amid din over the issue as members of several parties including Congress and Trinamool Congress stormed the Well and raised slogans during the Question Hour.
"You are the custodian and only you can check such attitude and behaviour of the government... I am not saying that you have come under their pressure," he told Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
The Speaker denied any pressure on the Chair and said she had to "maintain a balance" as she had to listen to "400 members who also want to ask questions and want proceedings to continue".
"No issue raised by the opposition has gone unnoticed," Mahajan said, adding that in Jyoti's case, the minister has herself apologised and the parliamentary affairs minister has made an appropriate statement.
"Therefore the matter should end there," she observed.
Jyoti, minister of state for food processing industries, had apologised in Parliament on Tuesday, reportedly on the orders of the Prime Minister, but opposition parties like the Left want her sacked and say she must face criminal charges for trying to incite communal hatred.
"The people of Delhi have to decide if they want a government of Ramzaadon (descendants of Ram) or haramzaadon (those who are illegitimately born)," Jyoti had reportedly had said at a public meeting in Delhi on Monday.
The comment created an uproar in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha over the last three days.
While the din in the lower house settled after Jyoti offered to apologise, members in Rajya Sabha refused to back down, and demanded that she be sacked from the Council of Ministers..
Sadhvi calls off Delhi poll meet
Meanwhile, Sadhvi cancelled an election rally in the Capital — her second show in as many days.
The evening rally in central Delhi’s Gole Market was junked a day after she was a no-show at a scheduled meeting in south Delhi’s Sheikh Sarai. Phonecalls made by HT to Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay went unanswered.
The cancellations come in the wake of outrage over her expletives-laden speech at a poll meeting on Monday, where she said, “Aapko tay karna hai ki Dilli mein sarkar Ramzadon ki banegi ya haramzadon ki (you have to decide if you want a government in Delhi to be led by children of Ram or illegitimate children).”
(With PTI inputs)