NEW DELHI: Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Monday warned members against referring to anyone’s caste and religion in the House after a Congress MP alleged that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made certain remarks about his proficiency in Hindi because he belonged to a particular community.
Taking serious exception to the word used by Congress member A R Reddy to refer to his own social category during the Question Hour, the Speaker pointed out that people have not elected the members to Lok Sabha on the basis of their caste and religion.
“Anyone here should never use such words in the House. Otherwise, I will have to take action against such a member,” the Speaker warned.
Birla also took serious exception to the Congress member asking the Speaker not to “interrupt” him when he was asking a question.
Birla asked the Congress leader in the House, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, to make his party members understand that they should never make such comments about the Speaker.
“You are the Leader of the House. Make members understand that they should never comment on the Speaker in the future ‘that you (Speaker) cannot interrupt’. Did you understand what I said?” Birla said.
The issue appeared as Reddy began asking a question on the depreciation of the rupee against the dollar, referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s earlier remark when he was the chief minister of Gujarat that the rupee was in the ICU (intensive care unit).
“Sir, you cannot interrupt,” Reddy said as the Speaker objected to his comment and directed him to limit himself to asking the question.
Birla warned Reddy against making such comments against the Speaker and then allowed him to ask his question.
Responding to Reddy’s question, the finance minister said she will also give her reply in “weak Hindi” to the question asked by the Congress member in “weak Hindi”.
The Congress member, while referring to Modi’s remarks on the value of the rupee against the dollar in the past, should have also referred to the economic indicators of that time, she said.
“Economy was certainly in the ICU then. India was kept in fragile five,” she said.
India is the fastest growing economy today despite the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, she asserted.
“This is a matter of pride. But they are making fun of it,” she said. “It’s sad that they talk such things out of jealousy when our economy is doing well,” she added.
The finance minister asserted that the Indian rupee has been strong against “every currency”.
“And, that is proved and I can read the records,” she added.
The US dollar is getting “stronger and stronger” due to “the policy adopted by the US Fed”, the finance minister said.
In the last couple of weeks, the foreign reserves have gone up because of the flow of FDIs and FIIs, she said.
“The fact remains that the reserves are going up. That’s why, at this time, talks about foreign exchange, rupee depreciation, reserves coming down or investors running away are actually not proven by data,” she added.