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Jayant Singh showers praise on Modi govt amid talk of RLD-BJP alliance

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New Delhi, Feb 10 (PTI) RLD chief Jayant Singh on Saturday showered praise on the Modi government for bestowing Bharat Ratna on his grandfather Charan Singh, saying only a government rooted in ground realities could honour a farmer leader like him.

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Singh asserted in Rajya Sabha that the ideals of the former prime minister are reflected in the policies of the Modi government as well, remarks that come amidst speculation that the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) is on the verge of breaking ties with the opposition's INDIA bloc and joining hands with the BJP for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar's decision to allow Singh to speak on the Bharat Ratna honour to Charan Singh drew sharp protest from the Congress, leading to a heated exchange of words between the opposition and the treasury benches.

Dhankhar expressed unhappiness at the objections raised by Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge and even accused the Congress leaders of insulting Charan Singh and his legacy.

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"It is a historic decision taken by Prime Minister Modi. It is obvious I will be happy. The honour of giving Bharat Ratna is not only limited to Charan Singh's family. This decision will empower farmers, labourers and deprived sections of the society," Singh said, amid uproar.

After the House was brought in order, Singh completed his remarks.

The RLD chief lamented that honouring a personality like Charan Singh is being seen through a political prism and is being linked to the formation of a political alliance and the winning or losing of elections.

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"I admit I was with the opposition for 10 years. I started sitting here (treasury benches) just a while ago. I have seen glimpses of Charan Singh's ideals in the working of this government in the 10 years," he said.

Expressing indebtedness to the Modi government for conferring the highest civilian award to Charan Singh, the RLD chief said: "Only a government which is rooted in ground realities, understands the voices from the ground and strengthens them can honour 'dhartiputra' Charan Singh with Bharat Ratna".

Soon after the House met for the day and listed papers were laid on the table, the Chair asked Singh to speak.

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As he started speaking, several opposition MPs were on their feet objecting to the time given to the RLD MP and asked the Chair under which rule of the House Singh was allowed to speak.

However, Singh continued to speak and appealed to Congress members to at least respect Charan Singh.

"Elections come and go. At least respect Charan Singh," he said.

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As Congress continued its protest, the Chair asked Kharge to speak.

"There is no debate on honouring leaders with Bharat Ratna. I salute everyone. But if a member wants to raise an issue, you (Chairman) ask 'under which rule'. (I want to know) Under which rule he (Jayant Singh) has been allowed to speak.

"Give permission to us also. On one side you talk about rules ... You have discretion... that discretion should be used judiciously and not as and when you want," said Kharge.

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The Congress president also accused the Chairman of "not following the rules". He said that had a discussion on Bharat Ratna been included in the House agenda, everybody would have participated.

Amid uproar, Union minister Parshottam Rupala expressed surprise that the Congress was "opposing" the awarding of Bharat Ratna to Chaudhary Charan Singh.

"Leader of Opposition is challenging the Chair and that too on such an occasion (celebration awarding of Bharat Ratna)...this is the real face of Congress... Congress has been exposed," Rupala said.

Leader of the House and Union Minister Piyush Goyal demanded an apology from Kharge for "disrespecting" the Chair.

Dhankhar too expressed dismay and pain over the remarks made by Kharge and certain other Congress members.

The chairman warned Congress MP Jairam Ramesh for remarks against Jayant Singh which could not be heard in the din.

"You are a person who can feast on the cremation ground. It is a matter of fact, you do not deserve to be part of the House by this misconduct," Dhankhar said, apparently referring to Ramesh.

Dhankhar informed the House that the RLD leader was permitted to speak in the House as Singh had made a request last evening. PTI LUX NKD MJH KR NKD RT RT

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