Modi must answer: United opposition corners PM over abusive remarks

December 3, 2014

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an appearance in Lok Sabha on Wednesday after his absence was questioned by opposition members, he was faced with another demand from them asking for an explanation on why a Union minister has not yet been fired for her abusive remarks.

Amid slogans of "Prime Minister must answer", opposition members led by the Congress launched another round of attack over Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti's controversial statement made during an election meeting in west Delhi on Sunday.

"People of Delhi have to decide if they want a government of Ramzaadon (followers of Ram) or a government of those who are Haraamzadon (illegitimate)," Union Minister of State in the Food Processing Ministry had said, raising a huge storm that has prevented proceedings in Parliament for three days.

She apologised in Parliament on Tuesday, after Modi reportedly told his MPs to not "speak out of turn", but a united opposition wants her sacked. They also said that Jyoti must face criminal charges for trying to incite communal hatred. "I have apologized. What else can I do?" Jyoti said on Tuesday.

"The statement is punishable under the provisions of the constitution," Anand Sharma of the Congress said. "It is wrong on the part of a BJP MP to give such a statement," party vice-president Rahul Gandhi said in Lucknow.

"My parents named me Sitaram, but I am ashamed of my name since the incident," CPM's Sitaram Yechury said. "The apology means Niranjan Jyoti accepts she committed a mistake. It is her moral responsibility to resign otherwise she should be dismissed," Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said.

The Samjawadi Party has said it has no confidence in the minister and demanded a motion to condemn Jyoti, a first-time Lok Sabha MP, in the House.

Defending Jyoti, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu said, "She is a minister and the opposition must listen to hear. She has apologised once. If the opposition wants, I can get her to apologise again."

"A Union minister during Manmohan Singh's regime had made derogatory statements against former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and later refused to apologise. Manmohan Singh had to apologise on his behalf," he added.

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