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Opposition should be strong but that cannot be ruling party's responsibility: Piyush Goyal

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New Delhi, Feb 8 (PTI) The opposition needs to win the hearts of people with their work, increase its numbers and become strong, but making it strong cannot be the responsibility of the ruling party, Leader of House and Union minister Piyush Goyal said in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

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Bidding farewell to the members retiring from the Upper House of Parliament, Goyal said the speech of Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge in the House while sharing his memories with former prime minister H D Deve Gowda reflected some distress that the INDIA opposition bloc is becoming weak.

"I agree that the opposition should stay strong but that responsibility cannot be with the ruling side. That responsibility has to be of the opposition that it strongly increases its numbers. It needs to win over the hearts of the public. I think that by obstructing the development journey of India, by being jealous of the development of India, the opposition will not become strong," Goyal said.

He said the BJP-led government would like to have a good debate and discussions in the House so that everyone can contribute to it.

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Goyal said Kharge brought to the fore some memories of Deve Gowda.

Earlier in the day, Kharge's speech evoked some light moments and laughter in the House as he recalled his years-long friendship with the Janata Dal (Secular) leader.

The Congress leader expressed surprise at Deve Gowda's sudden praise for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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"There was a bit of jealousy, some disappointment that their INDI Alliance is becoming weak. That cannot be our responsibility. If Deve Gowdaji could notice that the honourable prime minister is working with a great vision and taking important decisions in the interest of the country and to make it a developed country and honourable Deve Gowdaji and his party are joining it, then I believe there is no issue for showing jealousy," Goyal said.

Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar said the word "jealousy" cannot go on record. Goyal then replaced the word with anguish and pain.

"Personal conversations keep on happening. We never reveal personal conversations in the House. The day everyone starts revealing those, I believe that the situation for several big leaders will be uncomfortable," the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said.

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Congress members Syed Nasir Hussain, Kumar Ketkar, Rajmani Patel, L Hanumanthaiah, BJP's Anil Jain, Rakesh Sinha, GVL Narasimha Rao, Samir Oraon, Communist Party of India's (CPI) Binoy Viswam and Rashtriya Janata Dal's (RJD) Ahmad Ashfaque Karim also delivered their speeches.

Ketkar, a former journalist, criticised the environment in the Rajya Sabha during his tenure as a member of the Upper House.

"I have never seen such a polarised House in my entire journalistic career. This polarisation is full of hate. I have never experienced this irrespective of whichever party was in power. That is the atmosphere which I did not like," he said.

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Ketkar said the contributions of former prime ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were completely ignored while talking about the new century.

In response to Ketkar, Dhankhar recalled that some members used derogatory words against him but no one from the opposition reacted to it.

"To call the chairman a cheerleader of a political party is ultimate in taking a low dip. I would have expected that you would take an equitable view of things. You ignored what you saw before your eyes. We have interacted also. We have to digest so many things. If you would go as a journalist, sit at your table and find out what has emanated on a public platform and what I have suffered. I am sure people would introspect on that also," Dhankhar said. PTI PRS RC

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