Shinde forced on the back foot
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde had to eat his words and apologise to SP leader Jaya Bachchan in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday. Shinde was repeatedly interrupted by opposition members, especially Bachchan, when he was giving his response to the debate on the Assam violence.
The SP member seemed exasperated with Shinde’s long-winded reply, stating he was not coming to the point. Frustrated for being interrupted, Shinde blurted out, “Listen to me, my sister. It is a matter of concern... This isn’t a filmy issue.”
Outraged, she immediately objected to the words. The Opposition benches erupted in solidarity with Bachchan, also an actress, asserting that it was no way to talk to a member. Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley also got up in her support, pointing out that Bachchan was an achiever in her own field and did not deserve the ‘taunt’ from the Home Minister. Shinde later apologised for his statement. “If she is hurt by my comments, I apologise for that. She is my sister,” he said.
During his reply, Shinde said he understood the concerns raised by the Opposition parties, ‘but talking along communal lines could pose a threat to national integrity’.
“It is an issue of worry, not a party issue… When such situations arise, talking about Hindu-Muslim hurts national unity,” Shinde said. Later, taking a dig at Shinde, BJP member Balbir Punj likened the Home Minister to a that of a student ‘who memorises his subject on the previous night and repeats the same, regardless of the questions’.