Arun Jaitley said many statements had been made on all sides during the elections, and that the government does not want the stalemate as a result of this to continue. Photo: PTI
Arun Jaitley said many statements had been made on all sides during the elections, and that the government does not want the stalemate as a result of this to continue. Photo: PTI

Modi didn’t question Manmohan’s commitment to India: Arun Jaitley

Narendra Modi had criticized Congress for allegedly allowing Pakistan to interfere in Gujarat elections, citing a meeting between Manmohan Singh and former Pakistani diplomats in Mani Shankar Aiyar's residence

New Delhi: Seeking to end an impasse in Parliament over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reported comments against his predecessor Manmohan Singh in the Gujarat election campaign, the government said on Wednesday that it held Singh in high esteem.

The winter session has seen multiple adjournments of both Houses of Parliament since proceedings began on 15 December, with the opposition led by the Congress party demanding an apology and explanation from the prime minister.

In the course of the election campaign, Modi criticized the Congress for allegedly allowing Pakistan to interfere in the Gujarat election, citing a meeting between Singh and former Pakistani diplomats at the residence of suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar in New Delhi.

On Wednesday, making a statement in the Rajya Sabha, leader of the house and finance minister Arun Jaitley said: “The PM in his speeches did not question, nor did he mean to question the commitment to this nation of either former PM Manmohan Singh or former VP Hamid Ansari. Any such perception is erroneous. We hold these leaders in high esteem, as well as their commitment to India."

Responding to Jaitley’s statement, leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said: “I want to thank the leader of the House that he issued a clarification on the issue which was causing a deadlock for the last one week."

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 99 seats in the 182-member Gujarat assembly to clinch a sixth consecutive term in power in the state.

Meanwhile, the Lok Sabha saw disruptions and repeated adjournments over Union minister Ananth Kumar Hegde’s controversial comments on secularism and changing the Constitution. While members of the government distanced themselves from the comment, the opposition demanded that the minister be sacked.

Earlier in the day, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj informed the Lok Sabha that she will be making a statement on Thursday on recent developments related to Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer now on death row in a Pakistan jail.

According to her ministry, at a meeting with his wife and mother on Monday, Jadhav was under “considerable stress" and was “speaking in an atmosphere of coercion."

The Lok Sabha passed the Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to States) Amendment Bill, 2017 and the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second (Amendment) Bill during the day.

The Rajya Sabha passed the Indian Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2017 which excludes bamboo from the definition of trees under the Act.

PTI contributed to this story.

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