Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 17
A war of words broke out today on Congress MPs’ walkout from a meeting of the parliamentary standing committee on defence yesterday, with the government condemning the move and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh backing the parliamentarians.
Letter to Speaker
Rahul Gandhi, in a letter to the Speaker, said, “Every member has the right to point out digressions from the agenda and the purpose of the standing committee. The panel can disagree but the fact that the chairman does not permit a member to speak is a sad comment on how the government handles military affairs. I urge you to intervene and ensure discussions held in the defence committee are in consonance with the role and objective of the institution and that the right of elected MPs to speak freely is protected.”
Information Minister Prakash Javadekar earlier today hit out at Rahul saying committees are not sites of protest. “Rahul Gandhi has attended only two of the 14 meetings of the parliamentary standing committee on defence in the last year and a half. He is himself absent and then blames the government and procedures and walks out of the meeting in protest. Standing committee isn’t a protest site,” said Javadekar.
Rahul and others had left a meeting where a presentation was made on the rank structure, uniforms, badges and honours of the Armed Forces – an agenda finalised in the last committee meeting to help panel members appreciate rank structures and equivalence.
Amarinder Singh defended Rahul saying “I feel ashamed that committees have reached this level. I am shocked that the committee was discussing the type of polish to be used for buttons on the armed forces uniform instead of finding ways to counter the joint China-Pakistan threat. Rahul Gandhi rightly walked out of this mockery.”