New Delhi: After the Lok Sabha witnessed four adjournments on Friday due to a ruckus over his remarks pertaining to the PM National Relief Fund set up by independent India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Union Minister of State Anurag Thakur expressed regrets in the House.
The Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs expressed regret over his statement made while speaking during the introduction of the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020.
As the opposition members led by the Congress objected to his remarks against Nehru and Congress President Sonia Gandhi, the House saw four back-to-back adjournments.
"During the introduction of taxation and other laws, it was not my aim to hurt anyone while putting information (before the House). If anyone got hurt, I also feel the pain on that statement," Thakur said when the House reassembled at 6 p.m. following the four adjournments.
Thakur's statement came after Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla discussed the issue with the treasury benches and opposition leaders in his chamber in the wake of protests by opposition members. Birla later asked the Minister in the House to speak on his remarks so that the proceedings of the session could be regularised.
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said his party was hurt by Thakur's statement against his party leaders and said his MPs will be happy if the treasury benches did not repeat such things in future.
"You made us feel very hurt. The government's duty is to do work for the welfare of the country while the opposition's duty is to help the government. Parliament is for both. We will all run this session together. It is the responsibility of both the treasury and opposition benches," Chowdhury said.
Speaking on the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020, Thakur raised questions on Nehru's trust which he claimed is not yet registered even though it was set up in 1948 on the then PM's orders.
"In 1948, then Prime Minister Nehru ordered the PM National Relief Fund. Since then, there has been no registration of that fund. How did that fund get the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act nod is not known? The trust is not registered. How did you (Congress) give that trust FCRA clearance?" Thakur said earlier.
His remarks came as the Bill, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, has provisions about Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) fund on which the opposition has raised question on several occasions after it was set up to undertake and support relief or assistance of any kind relating to a public health emergency during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thakur said that the PM-CARES fund is a constitutionally authorised trust and was set up for the welfare of 130 crore people of the county.
The Prime Minister is the ex-officio Chairman of PM-CARES while the Ministers of Defence, Home Affairs, and Finance are ex-officio Trustees.
"You (Congress) made PM National Relief Fund Trust only for (welfare) of one Gandhi family," Thakur alleged.
Nehru and Interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi have been members of the Prime Minister National Relief Fund, continued the Minister, an MP from Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh.
He sought a detailed discussion to clear things about that fund.
The statement led to chaos in the House as Congress and Trinamool Congress members objected to his speech and continued to sloganeer, leading to four adjournments of the House.