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Rahul as Yuvraj: Protests rock Rajya Sabha
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April 21, 2008 18:01 IST

Description of Rahul Gandhi [Images] as a 'Yuvraj' (prince) of the common man by a Congress member sparked off an uproar in the Rajya Sabha on Monday with the Bharatiya Janata Party objecting to the use of the term as a blot on democracy.

Congress member E M Sudarsana Natchiappan said by marching to the Divisional Commissioner's office in Jhansi to know why people were being deprived of their right to employment under the NREGS, Rahul Gandhi had proved himself to be 'Yuvraj of people and the Yuvraj of my party'.

"If there is a Yuvraj, there has to be Rajmata and a Maharaja," retorted Balbir Punj of the BJP, who took the floor after Natchiappan, saying Yuvraj was 'unacceptable in a democracy'.

"It is hard to perceive that the salvation of the country depends on one family," Punj said amidst loud protests from the Congress benches. The sharp interlude took place as the House was discussing the functioning of the rural development ministry.

"Somebody being referred to as Yuvraj in a democratic country has to be a joke," the BJP member said.

Vociferous Congress members shot back by saying that BJP had only arm chair politicians who paid lip service to poverty alleviation.

"Here is a young leader who dares to eat and sleep with the underprivileged to espouse their cause," they said.

This triggered a running duel between the Congress and BJP benches, and Punj asked, "Does one remove rural poverty by marching to Divisional Commissioner's office?"

"It amounts to trivialising the issue of poverty," he declared.

Amidst the uproar, Amar Singh of the Samajwadi Party said the discussion was on rural development and members should stick to the subject.

Punj charged the Congress members with trying to derail the discussion by referring to other issues.

Brinda Karat of the CPI-M said that in the recent polls in Nepal, people had voted the monarchy out and a democratic government had come to power.

"The Raja and Maharaja have been shown the door. In this context how far is it valid to use the term Yuvraj," she asked without naming anybody.

She added that India unlike Nepal has been a democratic country since independence.

Intervening in the discussion, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V Narayansamy said in a democracy, people and Members of Parliament have the right to march to the Divisional Commissioner's office to take up the grievances of the common man.

"Don't they have such rights," he asked the BJP benches.

The episode finally died down when former Minister Sharad Yadav of the JD-U in his speech also referred to the incident, saying politics had been reduced to hypocrisy.

"One day a person spends a night in remote region of Bundelkhand and the next day he is spotted at IPL," he said.

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