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‘Defamatory remarks on Nehru family’ — Congress calls for privilege proceedings against Modi in RS

KC Venugopal serves notice citing PM's comments on 9 February, when he asked why none of the Gandhis had kept Nehru as their surname. Tone of remark was derogatory, Congress claims.

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New Delhi: The Congress Friday called for parliamentary privilege proceedings against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “defamatory” comments against “the Nehru family”, particularly Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. This occurred during the few minutes Parliament functioned before both houses were adjourned till 20 March.

While serving the notice for privilege proceedings in the Rajya Sabha, MP and Congress general secretary K.C. Venugopal cited the PM’s speech in the House on 9 February during the Budget session, when he asked why none of the Gandhis had kept “Nehru” as their surname.

“The above mentioned remarks, prima facie made in a mocking manner, are not only disgraceful but also insulting and defamatory vis-à-vis the Nehru family, particularly Smt. Sonia Gandhi and Shri. Rahul Gandhi, who are the members of the Lok Sabha,” Venugopal’s notice to the Rajya Sabha chairman said.

He cited two authorities — Practice and Procedure of Parliament by M.N. Kaul and S.L. Shakdher, and Erskine May’s Parliamentary Practice — to make his case.

“At the outset, I would like to say that the very suggestion by the prime minister why they did not take Nehru as the surname is preposterous by its very nature. The prime minister on that day knew very well that the surname of father is not taken by daughter,” Venugopal said, adding that the statement showed that the PM “deliberately mocked” the Gandhis.

He further alleged that the tone and tenor of the remark were derogatory in nature.

Both houses of parliament have been disrupted since the second half of the Budget session began Monday, with both the ruling BJP and the opposition on the offensive. The BJP has been demanding that Rahul Gandhi apologise for comments he made in the UK earlier this month about Indian democracy being under “brutal attack”. The Congress, meanwhile, has been pressing for the formation of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to investigate allegations of financial fraud against the Adani group.

Gandhi was in Parliament Thursday in what was his first public appearance after his visit to the UK. In a press conference afterwards, he said he had asked the Speaker of the Lok Sabha to allow him time to speak in the House since four ministers had levelled allegations against him in Parliament. The Congress sloganeered in the Lok Sabha demanding that Gandhi be allowed to speak, and the proceedings were disrupted thereafter.

(Edited by Smriti Sinha)

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