LS adjourned thrice over Minister's remarks on Nehru Trust
New Delhi, September 18, 2020
The Lok Sabha witnessed three adjournments on Friday after its proceedings were disrupted due to a ruckus over Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur's remark about first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's National Relief Fund.
Speaking on the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020, Thakur raised questions on Nehru's trust which he claimed is not yet registered even though it was set up in 1948 on Nehru's orders.
"In 1948, then Prime Minister Nehru ordered the PM National Relief Fund. Since then, there has been no registration of that fund. How that fund got Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act nod is not known? The trust is not registered. How did you (Congress) give that trust FCRA clearance?" the Minister said.
His remarks came as the Bill, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, has provisions about Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES)' fund on which the opposition has raised question on several occasions after it was set up to undertake and support relief or assistance of any kind relating to a public health emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thakur said that the PM-CARES fund is a constitutionally authorised trust and was set up for the welfare of 130 crore people of the county. The Prime Minister is the ex-officio Chairman of PM-CARES while the Ministers of Defence, Home Affairs, and Finance are ex-officio Trustees.
"You (Congress) made PM National Relief Fund Trust only for (welfare) of one Gandhi family," Thakur alleged.
Interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Nehru have been members of the Prime Minister National Relief Fund, continued the Minister, an MP from Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh.
He sought a detailed discussion to clear things about that fund.
It led to chaos in the House as Congress and Trinamool Congress members objected to his speech.
Congress leader of the House, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, said his party did not raise objections to the PM-CARES Fund by blaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and asked why had Thakur made personal remarks against his party chief and Nehru.
"These people are trying to take down the dignity of the Chair and make the House environment worse. Why did you abuse Pandit Nehru and Sonia Gandhi? If you don't want to run the House, you should stop functioning," Chowdhury said.
Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi sought an apology from Thakur. The TMC's Kalyan Banerjee also objected, saying a Minister should not speak like this.
As many MPs raised their voices and stood up, which is prohibited in this session, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla tried to cool the frayed tempers and said he would name members, whether from the treasury or opposition benches, who violated the rules. Birla later adjourned the House for half an hour.
The House was adjourned the second time within minutes after it reassembled as the opposition continued sloganeering against the government and sought an apology from Thakur.
It was adjourned again till 5.30 p.m. as the Congress and other opposition members continued to protest and raise slogans.