Kolkata: Calling it “unprecedented “, “lacking basic etiquette” and an “extraordinary” attempt to “erase Jawaharlal Nehru’s name from the history of Indian politics and freedom struggle”, senior Congress leaders Sunday reacted sharply to the alleged absence of central ministers and senior functionaries of the Parliament from a programme organised at the Lok Sabha to celebrate the birthday of India’s first Prime Minister on 14 November.
Talking to The Print, veteran Congress MP and former minister, Jairam Ramesh, termed it “unprecedented and crass”. Claiming that the Lok Sabha Speaker, Rajya Sabha Chairman and many central ministers from the function were absent from the event, he said it was “extraordinary”.
Extraordinary scene today in Parliament at the traditional function to mark the birth anniversary of those whose portraits adorn the Central Hall. Speaker Lok Sabha absent. Chairman Rajya Sabha absent. Not a single Minister present. Can it get more atrocious than this?!
— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) November 14, 2021
“Regrettable and unprecedented” was how senior Congress leader and MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi termed it, while talking to ThePrint. ” The sentiments expressed on his anniversary sound platitudinous and empty when accompanied by such omissions,” he said.
Senior Congress leader and MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury too was sharply critical of the BJP for its members allegedly skipping the Lok Sabha event.
“This is a shameful act. The present dispensation lacks basic etiquette and political courtesy. There is a conflict between Nehru’s ideology and theirs. But how can they keep on demeaning the first PM of the country, who had a 17 year long stint as PM?” he questioned
“Modi wants to portray himself as the best PM, and that is why he and his party want to erase Nehru’s legacy, his contribution from the history of politics and freedom struggle of India. But the leader of the country needs to have a large heart, which he (Modi) is failing to show,” Chowdhury told The Print.
The MP added that senior Congress leaders had been present in the Parliament to attend the programme and the party will raise this issue on the floors of both Houses.
Sources in Lok Sabha secretariat told ThePrint that “Om Birla, Speaker, attended central hall event in 2019 and 2020. This year he is attending official event in Jaipur. It is a programme organised by the Rajasthan government on the occasion of Baal Divas and it is being held at Rajasthan Vidhansabha.”
Special session for Children was organized in Rajasthan Legislative Assembly. Lok Sabha Speaker @ombirlakota inaugurated this special session. Ministers and assembly members watched the children's session from the audience gallery. pic.twitter.com/zTH9SQYxd3
— All India Radio News (@airnewsalerts) November 14, 2021
ThePrint also reached BJP National Spokesperson R.P. Singh and the party’s in-charge of National Information and Technology Department Amit Malviya for comment, but there was no response till the publication of this report.
BJP leaders tweet tribute
Many BJP leaders meanwhile tweeted their tributes to Nehru on his 132nd birth anniversary.
While PM Narendra Modi and senior ministers like Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari took to social media to pay their tributes, Home minister Amit Shah is yet to do that.
Tributes to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Ji on his birth anniversary.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 14, 2021
My tributes to India’s first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru ji on his jayanti.
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) November 14, 2021
देश के प्रथम प्रधानमंत्री पंडित जवाहरलाल नेहरु जी को जयंती दिवस पर अभिवादन।
— Nitin Gadkari (@nitin_gadkari) November 14, 2021
Meanwhile, Derek O’Brien, leader of Trinamool Parliamentary Party in the Rajya Sabha too said, “This dispensation is destroying India’s great institutions including Parliament”.