Parliament Day 8: House rocked by Kovind's speech, missing Indians
The eight day of parliament was rocked by debates on Indians missing in Iraq, President Ram Nath Kovind's oath-taking speech and more. Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said she won't "commit the sin" of declaring the 39 missing Indians dead without concrete evidence. The opposition Congress also launched protests on several issues, including the suspension of six of its members from the House.
Cong-BJP spar over President Kovind's speech
Congress protested President Ram Nath Kovind not mentioning Jawaharlal Nehru in his swearing-in speech. Party leader Anand Sharma slammed him for projecting Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay "in the same light". "Zero hour can't run only for the benefit of television channels," Arun Jaitley responded. Congress' Ghulam Nabi Azad retorted, "Most channels cover the ruling party. They've no freedom for three years."
Won't commit sin by declaring missing Indians dead: Sushma Swaraj
Swaraj reiterated India will continue efforts to trace 39 nationals kidnapped by ISIS in Mosul. "I don't have proof of their death, but have no proof of their being alive," she said, adding Iraq hasn't provided any concrete information on the matter either. One kidnapped Indian who fled said the others had been killed, but "six sources said they haven't been killed", she reminded.
Congress protests comments against Jyotiraditya Scindia, suspension of members
Congress launched protests over comments made by BJP members against its party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia. It also opposed the suspension of six members for five days over 'unruly behavior'. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan issued clarification on comments by BJP leader Virendra Kumar: "Kumar hadn't mentioned any person directly." Congress members also demanded action against BJP's Anurag Thakur for recording proceedings inside the House on phone.
Other issues discussed: Budgetary allocation for SC/ST, railway facilities
In response to Congress' claims that budgetary allocation for SC/ST has been reduced, Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram clarified there's been no cut. After AAP MP Bhagwant Mann complained about difficulties in ticket-booking through IRCTC website, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said an app had been launched for the purpose. CCTV cameras have also been installed to check for touts at stations, he said.