Narendra Modi was replying to the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address in the ongoing Budget Session. Photograph: (AFP)
The Congress staged a walkout from Parliament after Modi's remark that Manmohan Singh had been shielded from corruption allegations
Pandemonium erupted in Parliament's Upper House, Rajya Sabha today with the Congress staging a walkout after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's jibe at former PM Manmohan Singh over
Modi, who was replying to the Motion of Thanks for the President's budget address said, "For almost 35 years, Manmohan Singhji had a lot of influence on country's economic policies. Is there not a single taint on him. Only Manmohan Singh understands the art of taking bath in a bathroom wearing a raincoat."
He was alluding to the fact that the former PM's name was not singled out for corruption despite the fact that his UPA-led government was implicated in a series of corruption scandals including the allocation of coal blocks, spectrum and telecom licenses.
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said it was "unbecoming of a prime minister to malign a former prime minister in such a manner".
"Walked out as protest, such harsh and ugly comments not acceptable. No PM in past made such comments about a former PM," the former finance minister said.
It is unbecoming of a prime minister to use such language for a former PM, unbecoming for anyone to say such harsh ugly statement," Chidambaram said.
Senior Congress leader Ahmad Patel said he was "speechless" after the PM's remarks. Congress politician Kapil Sibal described the allegations as "unsustainable" and said Modi was being "arrogant".
"Look at his arrogance, he chooses to speak when everyone else is done and then makes unsubstantiated allegations," Kapil Sibal said.
PM Modi also defended demonetisation, stating that no other country in the world had taken such a big decision and that it would be a case study across world universities. He said banks had received a lot of cash and interest rates had fallen down after demonetisation.
"There wasn't a decision as big taken anywhere in the world.This can become a big case study for the world universities. The massive decision that India took," Modi said. Worlds' economists don't know parameters to assess it. What India did will be a case study for economists worldwide," Modi added. "You quote foreign economists, I can quote 10 of them on the fact that such an action hasn't been taken in the world ever."
Modi also said the fight against corruption was not political and that only political parties were opposing demonetisation. "The government and the people were together during the period of demonetisation. For the first time, a horizontal divide was visible. Mood of the people completely different from mood of politicians," Modi said.
The Lower House of Parliament, Lok Sabha, yesterday, passed by a voice vote the Motion of Thanks to President's address amid protests by the Opposition led by the Congress party after the PM attacked them for "dynastic politics."
The President makes a special address to a joint sitting of both houses of Parliament at the beginning of the first session of the year, usually the Budget Session, outlining the legislative and policy achievements during the preceding year and the roadmap for the year ahead.
After being approved by the Cabinet, the address is followed by a motion of thanks moved in each House by ruling party MPs, followed by discussions that last up to three or four days and conclude with the PM replying to the points raised during the discussion.
After the PM's reply, MPs vote on the motion of thanks and some may move amendments to the address.