Advani admitted that he made a mistake by speaking about UPA-II and what he actually intended to say was the 2008 vote of confidence secured during the UPA-I
New Delhi: The monsoon session of Parliament started on a stormy note on Wednesday when Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leader LK Advani triggered an uproar by dubbing UPA-II as 'illegitimate' but was forced to withdrew the remark after strong protests from Congress led by Sonia Gandhi, reports PTI.
"The UPA-II is illegitimate. It has never happened in the history of India .... crores of rupees were never spent to get votes," Advani said, provoking the treasury benches during a debate on an adjournment motion he had moved on the recent violence in Assam.
The Congress President and UPA chairperson displayed some unusual aggression in the Lok Sabha when she made clear that she would not countenance Advani's description of the government and egged on members of the treasury benches to demand its withdrawal.
The House was locked in uproar as BJP members launched a counter attack but Gandhi had one simple demand. "Withdraw, withdraw one word, withdraw," she said signalling the whole matter could be resolved.
The noisy scenes were witnessed when Advani, who was allowed to move his adjournment motion on the Assam violence, courted trouble in his speech when he said "I consider UPA II is illegitimate".
Gandhi's protest and and her message to the ministers and the Leader of the House Sushil Kumar Shinde was enough signal for the Congress and other UPA MPs to rise to their feet demanding withdrawal of the word.
Advani's attempt to convince the House that he was not referring to the government after the 2009 elections but to the 2008 confidence vote in the House on the nuclear deal issue for which "crores of rupees were spent" to save the government.
This did not not cut ice with the Congress and UPA members who demanded that the BJP veteran withdraw the remarks.
As an angry Gandhi was demanded its withdrawal, Leader of Lok Sabha and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde appealed to him to withdraw the word.
"Advani is a senior leader. We all respect him. But today he has said the entire (2009) election was illegitimate. This is an insult for all of us. I think he should withdraw his words," Shinde said in his first intervention as the Leader of the House.
The Speaker also reminded Advani that she had allowed adjournment motion as people were concerned about the situation in Assam.
"But one word used by you has hurt the sentiments of everyone. If you want, you can withdraw it."
Advani admitted that he made a mistake by speaking about UPA-II and what he actually intended to say was the 2008 vote of confidence secured during the UPA-I.
"My comments were on the confidence vote and not on election. ... Those who were whistle-blowers were sent to jail," he said, "I withdraw the word illegitimate."
With the din continuing, the Speaker adjourned the House for lunch. When the House reassembled after lunch, the Speaker observed that Advani has withdrawn those remarks and they would not form part of the records.
Responding to the vociferous protests by Congress, DMK and Trinamool Congress members, Kumar had earlier asked Advani to withdraw his remarks and said she would go through the records and expunge any objectionable or unparliamentary word.
Before the adjournment, the senior BJP leader said he was referring to the alleged cash-for-vote scam that saw BJP MPs displaying wads of cash in the Lok Sabha during debate on the confidence motion, which they claimed was paid to them for voting in favour of the government.
The Treasury benches, including ministers, were on their feet protesting Advani's remarks, with Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K Bansal forcefully pointing out that Advani was digressing from the issue on which he was allowed to speak.
"He has made extraneous remarks which has denigrated the Parliamentary system, the people and democracy," Bansal said.
Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj clarified that Advani had not raised any unrelated issue and was only pointing out the failure of the government on economic and social fronts, including checking infiltration in Assam.
Even after the adjournment, the atmosphere remained surcharged in the House with Gandhi, who is also the UPA Chairperson, seen interacting with MPs and ministers.
Tempers were also frayed in the Opposition benches with some of BJP members accusing the Congress of making a mountain of a molehill and dragging the matter in spite of a senior leader like Advani withdrawing his words.
Some BJP members also warned that the House would not be allowed to function smoothly if the Congress attitude remained as it was today.