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PM remark expunged in rare decision

Modi in New Delhi on Friday. Picture by Prem Singh

New Delhi: Rajya Sabha chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu has expunged portions of a remark Prime Minister Narendra Modi made about a Congress MP on Thursday, marking a rare event in parliamentary history.

None could recall any past instance of any portion of a Prime Minister's speech or intervention, however small, being removed from the record of House proceedings on the direction of the presiding officer.

Modi had made the remark about the Opposition candidate for House deputy chairman, B.K. Hariprasad, while felicitating the winner, Harivansh. Many in the Opposition and outside construed three words in that speech as an attempt to crack a joke about Hariprasad's initials.

While Opposition members squirmed at the reference, which they thought was in poor taste, the BJP benches too remained stony-faced.

On Friday, Naidu directed the expunction of these three words. He also expunged a reference to these three words by RJD member Manoj Jha, who had quoted them while demanding their removal from the records. There was talk of moving a privilege notice against the Prime Minister for the remark.

Jha had raised the subject soon after the House had convened on Thursday afternoon.

"With reference to Rule 238, I would like to say that hon'ble Prime Minister was here in the House in the morning. While complimenting the new deputy chairman, he referred to... which is derogatory in direction and intent.... I would urge you to examine it and expunge it," he said.

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