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House makes Gujral gaffe

Ranchi, Nov. 30: The first day of the winter session began here with double faux pas, as the House condoled the death of Inder Kumar Gujral and the chief minister delivered his message to the media even before the ailing former Prime Minister passed away late in the afternoon.

Speaker C.P. Singh later ordered withdrawal of the condolence motion from Assembly proceedings, but not before the gaffes were made public by television channels.

The House session kicked off at 11am and leaders of various parties started reading out their condolence notes soon after the Speaker’s customary 15-minute address.

Their list of the dead included Gujral former Gujarat governors Kailashpati Mishra and Nawal Kishore Sharma, former Union ministers K.C. Pant, Kashiram Rana and Yeren Naidu, former RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan, Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray, social workers Anukura Ho, Dorai Buru and Ramsewak Hazari, former Bihar ministers Hemlata Yadav and Aditya Singh White Revolution pioneer Verghese Kurien, film producer Yash Chopra, comedian Jaspal Bhatti, victims of stampedes at Satsang Ashram in Deoghar and Chhath in Patna.

While the MLAs read out their notes, the Speaker suddenly announced that there was no official confirmation on Gujral’s death and the condolence proceedings stand amended. But, by that time, television channels had started airing the chief minister’s condolence message, which he delivered even before the House began.

Sources said Munda himself had informed the Speaker about Gujral’s death following rumours and Twitter updates.

“It was a human error. But, the role of the media is in question here too. Journalists ought to shoulder some responsibilities honestly. After all, the Press is the Fourth Estate of our democracy,” the chief minister later told newspersons in a damage control attempt.

The former Prime Minister, who headed a rickety coalition government in the late 1990s, breathed his last at 3.27pm at a private hospital in Delhi following multi-organ failure. He was 92. He will be cremated in Delhi tomorrow.

The second supplementary budget for the current fiscal, the Jharkhand Settlement of Accounts Bill 2012 and action taken report on assurances given by the government on the floor of the House during the monsoon session were tabled in the House today. The debate on second supplementary budget would begin on Monday.

Munda advised members of the House to use the winter session for constructive discussions on issues of mass interests.