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Huge row in Rajya Sabha as Congress protests President Kovind omitting Nehru in maiden speech

NEW DELHI: A day after new President Ram Nath Kovind notably omitted mentioning Jawaharlal Nehru in his maiden speech+ , the Congress and the BJP sparred fiercely on the issue in the Rajya Sabha, with the former accusing the latter of undermining leaders of the freedom movement.

The BJP hit back, with Union minister Arun Jaitley snidely commenting that zero hour “can’t run only for the benefit of the television channels”.

Jaitley’s comment in turn led to another fusillade of protests forcing the exasperated chair PJ Kurien to adjourn the Rajya Sabha.

Earlier, the Congress protested that leaders of the independence movement were “being given short shrift” by the NDA government. It also expressed shock that the new President mentioned Gandhi and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya in the same breath in his first speech as President on Tuesday.

“We need to sculpt a robust, high growth economy, an educated, ethical and shared community, and an egalitarian society, as envisioned by Mahatma Gandhi and Deen Dayal Upadhyay ji,” said Kovind on Tuesday.

Congress MP Anand Sharma was having none of it.

“Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay are now projected in the same light,” said Sharma.

The BJP’s Jaitley then asked the chair to expunge Sharma’s statement and also to take cognizance of the fact zero hour isn’t suitable for such comments.

“The Chair should be guided that the zero hour can’t run only for the benefit of the television channels,” said Jaitley.

This enraged the Opposition Congress.

“I would request the Chair to remove the comment from the record. We never speak for television camera because most of the channels cover the ruling party. They have no freedom for the last three years,” said senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Former Congress Union minister Kapil Sibal also chimed in.

 “I never expected the leader to denigrate the Opposition in such a fashion, to disrespect the discourse of the House,” he said
Jaitley stuck to his guns that zero hour isn’t meant for such discussions.

 “None of us were born yesterday to not understand each other’s game. We all know why the noise is being made over something which is not the point of order,” the defence minister said.

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