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Modi with Manmohan Singh
Modi with Manmohan Singh

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday mocked his predecessor Manmohan Singh while replying to a  debate on the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address in Rajya  Sabha, saying one should learn the art of “bathing with a rain-coat on” from him as there was not a single taint on him despite so many scams taking place during his regime.

Enraged by his “raincoat jibe” against Manmohan Singh, Congress has announced that it will boycott Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Parliament during the entire budget session and will try to bring on board other opposition parties too. “We will boycott the Prime Minister. We will not listen to him, but we will not assault the dignity of the office of the Prime Minister. At the same time, we will continue to protest, we know that he is an obdurate person.

“It is sad that we have an arrogant person who occupies the chair of the Prime Minister. He has demeaned his office repeatedly by his choice of words and language,” Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma told reporters.

Congress this morning held a strategy meet of opposition parties including JD(U), Left, DMK and Samajwadi Party over the issue. Sharma claimed that the other parties too will join them.

Asked if the boycott will be for this Session alone, he said this is a long session and the opposition parties will meet in the intersession period. “Now we have gone into recess and we will be coordinating our position very closely. Do not worry, let us meet again on March 9 in Parliament. “This story which the Prime Minister has scripted, we will be concluding. That final chapter will be written by us and Prime Minister must note that. I am making it very clear. “He has started the first chapter, we will write the last chapter on this subject,” he said giving out a virtual threat to the ruling dispensation.

Congress had taken strong exception to the “raincoat” jibe and staged a walkout and demanded an apology from him. Congress also disrupted the proceedings in the Rajya Sabha today and protested in the Lok Sabha.

The Congress leader said the Prime Minister “is intolerant to criticism. He lives in denial. He is also arrogant. He has lowered the dignity of office repeatedly and has used language which is unacceptable in political debates. “He has dragged the political debates to unacceptable depths. We have been urging the PM to desist from doing this.

But, he relishes using foul languages and insulting the Opposition,” he said.

“The Congress party consciously took this decision because we could not be sitting there as he was abusing our leaders, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh without any provocation from him, and insulted the memory of Indira Gandhi, who was martyred,” he said.

Sharma said Modi violated the rules of business and ethics of the House and breached the privileges of members, as Manmohan Singh is a sitting member and the Prime Minister could not have said anything against him without informing him and bringing a substantive motion. This, he said, has been pointed out today.

“This must be understood. We know what BJP is saying that we have disrespected the PM. The Prime Minister has insulted Indian democracy in Parliament and we cannot accept what he has done,” he said. .

“Such harsh and ugly comments are not acceptable. No PM has ever used such comments about a former PM,” said senior Congress leader P Chidambaram; the party’s MPs in protest walked out of the Rajya Sabha, where the Prime Minister delivered a lengthy speech, outlining his government’s commitment to fighting corruption and black money or tax evasion, in particular through his controversial decision to outlaw 500-and 1,000-rupee notes at just a few hours’ notice. Dr Singh, who was present, said he did not wish to respond to the PM.

In November, Dr Singh had, also in Parliament, described the PM’s abrupt demonetisation drive as “organised loot and legalised plunder.” Stating that he agreed with the need to attack the country’s vast shadow economy, Dr Singh had said the execution of the notes ban, which triggered a severe cash shortage, was “a monumental management failure.”

Today, the PM made it clear that the critique had stung. “If you use words like ‘loot’ and ‘plunder’ for us, we will pay you back in the same coin,” he said.

On Wednesday, the PM defended the notes ban in the Lok Sabha, where he attacked Rahul Gandhi, Congress Vice President, who misguidedly said “SCAM”, when applied to his party’s actions, refers to “Seva, Courage, Ability and Modesty.” The PM said that the attempt to “find Seva (service) in Scam” so distressed “Mother Earth” that an earthquake was the result. Hours before his speech, Delhi shook with tremors. And months earlier, Mr Gandhi had dispensed the argument that the government was trying to thwart him from speaking on demonetisation in Parliament, because when he did, “an earthquake will happen.” Wryly, the PM said yesterday, “the quake has arrived.”

A war has been boiling between the two parties for quite some time.

The BJP and the Congress clashed in Parliament on Monday over the issue of “sacrifices” made for the country during a discussion on Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address. Objecting the BJP’s contention that development was taking place under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge claimed that the Congress had “preserved democracy” due to which Mr Modi “could become the Prime Minister”.

“If Narendra Modi has become the Prime Minister despite his poor background, it is because we preserved democracy,” said the Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha.

“You are asking what happened in 60 years? If nothing had happened, you would not have been alive and Constitution would not have been protected,” Mr Kharge added.

The former prime minister enjoys tremendous respect in his party
The former prime minister enjoys tremendous respect in his party

“When people were facing hunger, it was the Congress which gave them food,” the senior leader further said and jibed that the BJP would even claim that Verghese Kurien, the father of the White Revolution, was born during the Modi Government rule.

However, during the altercation, Mr Kharge seemed to have used a word, which was objected to by the BJP. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar requested Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to expunge the “unparliamentary” term.

“We condemn this. Lakhs of people have sacrificed their lives for the people. Congress is not the custodian of making sacrifices,” Mr Kumar said and invoked their ideological influences Shyama Prasad Mookerjee and Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay.

Taking stock of the situation, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan decided to expunge the word uttered by Mr Kharge -a decision which was protested to by the Congress.

“At that time, it was a declared Emergency. Under you, there is an undeclared Emergency,” claimed Mr Kharge, amidst the altercation between Congress and BJP MPs.