Parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday apologied for his remarks directed at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and other political parties after a united opposition forced brief adjournments in both houses of parliament.
“I had no intention to hurt anybody or defame anybody. I did not have any person or party in mind. What I made was a general criticism of political nature. It should end here and we must move forward,” he said in the Lok Sabha.
In his intervention on the Motion of Thanks for the President's address in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, Naidu had taken an apparent dig at Rahul’s leave of absence to reflect on recent developments and future course of the party. “Congress should also self-introspect. And if you cannot do it here, go somewhere far to do it,” he had said. Naidu also took jibes at the Telagana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which rules Telangana, and the CPI, calling it “Consumer Price Index”.
The remarks had clearly infuriated the opposition. Before the two houses assembled for the day, leaders of the opposition parties and Congress MPs met at Sonia Gandhi’s office in parliament to formulate a joint strategy. It was decided that the opposition will agitate and relent only after Naidu’s apology.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had sounded the warning. “It is a question of our honour. He must express regret. It should not become a practice. We will not tolerate.” Similar scenes were witnessed in the Rajya Sabha.
Sensing the opposition plan to derail the presentation of the railway budget in the Lok Sabha, Naidu sought truce and made a suo motu statement.
Naidu said he respected all parties and leaders and had not used any un-parliamentary language. “I only said what happened in your time and what is happening in our tenure. I also mentioned about the thinking of the present government.”
BJP sources Prime Minister Narendra Modi and finance minister Arun Jaitley had prompted Naidu to put an end to the controversy.