regular-article-logo Thursday, 21 September 2023

Precedent waits for Piyush Goyal’s comments on Rahul Gandhi

The PM should also be asked to authenticate his allegations against the Congress in his Motion of Thanks reply, says Jairam Ramesh

Anita Joshua New Delhi Published 18.03.23, 03:49 AM
Rahul Gandhi.

Rahul Gandhi. File Photo

Rajya Sabha Chairperson Jagdeep Dhankhar on Friday asked leader of the House Piyush Goyal to authenticate remarks he had made earlier this week about Congress Lok Sabha member Rahul Gandhi and his meetings in London.

Dhankhar issued the direction in response to a point of order that leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge had raised on Monday demanding expunction of those remarks — which Goyal went on to repeat in the House on Tuesday.


Kharge had cited the time-honoured tradition of the Rajya Sabha that prohibits allegations against a member of the other House. Officials familiar with the rules of procedure said Dhankhar’s directive was an unusual one as Kharge had specifically cited precedent while demanding the expunction of Goyal’s remarks.

Congress communications chief and Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh said: “The PM should also be asked to authenticate his allegations against the Congress in his Motion of Thanks reply. I had immediately asked for it but my remarks were expunged.” Referring to the point of order raised by Kharge on Monday, the Chairperson said: “I find it expedient to direct the leader of the House to authenticate, including by electronic means, the assertion made by him on 13th and 14th March, 2023, on the issue during the course of the day.”

Dhankhar adjourned the House immediately afterwards as both sides stuck to their guns. Kharge had cited two precedents, one from June 19, 1967, when V.V. Giri said: “I would like to add that it would be a good rule to observe that members of one House should not use the freedom of speech on the floor of the House to make allegations or charges against members of the other House....”

The second precedent Kharge cited was of BJP veteran L.K. Advani requesting the Chair not to allow certain allegations to go on record, following which the presiding officer said: “…Prima facie, Mr Advani is right. Before referring to a member of the other House, one has to exercise a lot of care and caution.”

While Goyal had avoided naming Rahul, his demand for an apology from the Lok Sabha MP who had raised issues about Indian democracy in London left no one in doubt who he was referring to. Congress member K.C. Venugopal on Friday submitted a privilege notice against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for taking a jibe at the Nehru-Gandhi family during his reply to the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address in the Rajya Sabha. Modi had asked why the first Prime Minister’s descendants did not use the surname “Nehru”, and whether the family was ashamed of it.

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