Lok Sabha on Thursday witnessed a heated exchange between interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal and Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge with the minister challenging Kharge to fight an election against him from Mumbai.
Goyal, who was speaking on the four GST bills taken up by the House for passage, targeted Congress and said it will be reduced to a single digit in the next Lok Sabha elections.
Kharge hit back saying the minister had not even won an election.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar sought an aplogy from Kharge over his remarks.
Congress members were near the Speaker’s podium and raising slogans in favour of their demand for a joint parliamentary committee to probe the Rafale fighter jet deal during Goyal’s speech.
Kharge said the Goods and Services Tax has been implemented in a flawed manner by the Modi government.
He said the minister had never fought an election but was saying that “the Congress will not win even four seats.”
“I want to remind you that you were two members once, and you are talking about us,” he said.
As members of treasury benches protested, Kumar said the Kharge was a senior member but was ignorant of rules of procedure.
“Piyush Goyal Ji is elected to the other House. He has been elected by the States. He knows that, in the constitutional scheme made by Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar, anybody can be elected to either of the two Houses of Parliament. Therefore, if this basic knowledge is not with Kharge Ji, then, he should apologize to the entire House. He should apologize to Piyush Goyal Ji,” Kumar said.
The minister said senior former prime minister Manmohan Singh was also a Rajya Sabha member.
“They should remember Dr Manmohan Singh, who is six-time MP from Assam, is still in the other House. We respect him for he became the Prime Minister of this country twice. The same question which Mallikarjun Kharge Ji is asking our friend Piyush Goyal should be posed to Dr. Manmohan Singh also,” he said.
Kumar also targeted Congress over not conferring Bharat Ratna on B.R. Ambedkar and putting up a candidate against him in the Lok Sabha elections.
Kumar said Ambedkar was conferred Bharat Ratna by V.P. Singh government which was supported by the BJP.
Goyal said he spoke at some length as the House was considering four GST bills.
“I did not say anything derogatory. I never imagined he would be so frustrated that he would start making personal allegations. I challenge you to come and fight an election against me in Mumbai,” Goyal said.
Congress member K.C. Venugopal said Kharge had been forced to respond as Goyal had targeted Congress several times during his 45-minute speech.
“Congress brought democracy to the country, that is why you are here,” he said.
The Congress leader also referred to the Rafale deal and said a joint parliamentary committee should be formed to look into it.
He asked the government why it was not disclosing the price of the fighter jet.
Goyal responded by stating that the agreement was in the country’s interest and the allegations were unfounded.