Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday refused to apologise for his remarks comparing soldiers who were killed in the Uri attacks to the number of people who died across the country due to demonetisation.
"I will not apologise. BJP should apologise for the mess they have created over demonetisation," Azad said, responding to a demand for apology made by Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
Naqvi described Azad's comments as unfortunate in the Upper House on Friday and demanded that the Congress leader apologise for the same. "Ghulam Nabi Azad should apologise on the floor of the house over his statement on Uri attack and demonetisation," Naqvi said.
Azad's comments, made before the Rajya Sabha was adjourned, have now been deleted from records by the Chair after the Information and Broadcast Minister Venkaiah Naidu demanded that the "atrocious, objectionable and anti-national" remarks be expunged.
"Pakistan-sponsored terrorism has taken the lives of thousands of people... you are comparing this (deaths of people outside banks) with Pakistani terror. Pakistan will use this statement," Naidu had said in the Upper House.
However, Azad refused to budge and attacked the government for being supporters of Pakistan due to which people in Kashmir were dying. The Congress leader also hails from the Valley.
"You are the supporter of Pakistan. You participate in their feast. You send them shawls, mangoes...You go to their marriage ceremonies uninvited...," Azad said, apparently referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's unscheduled visit to Lahore to meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif whose granddaughter was getting married in December 2015.
"The Congress is a political party which has remained in power. What selfish motive does it have to weaken this move of the government? We would have expected the Congress to support it. This is not patriotism, that you connect this with terrorism. Even the terrorists use black money," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told ANI lashing out at the Opposition for its "irresponsible" behaviour in Parliament.
The government was also adamant about not giving in to the Opposition's demand that the prime minister be present in the Upper House and address the concerns of the opposition parties and explain why the decision to demontise currency notes was taken.
"If the government thinks it necessary at an appropriate time for the Prime Minister to intervene, we will consider it at that stage. But it's not necessary that there is an intervention in every debate," Jaitley said.
Meanwhile, the Congress party has backed Azad saying that he had said nothing wrong and that the BJP was trying to divert the attention of everyone from the demonetisation issue by attacking the Congress leader.
"BJP is trying to side track the issue by creating a controversy over Azad's remark, which he never meant, and has been misinterpreted," senior Congress leader Ambika Soni told Times Now. She added that the BJP government does not have proper justification for banning Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes which is why they are creating a controversy out of nothing.
Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have been adjourned till Monday due to uproar in the House over demonetisation and Azad's remarks.
— ANI (@ANI_news) November 18, 2016