United States President Donald Trump, politely and diplomatically, offered to mediate in the long-standing Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan, on Monday. But little did he know that his claim of an unlikely discussion between him and Prime Minister Narendra Modi would stir up a political storm in India.
The Rajya Sabha was adjourned till 3 pm on Tuesday over a heated exchange between Chairman and Opposition members over Trump's statement on Kashmir mediation.
The Lok Sabha, on the other hand, had to face a walkout from the Opposition leaders.
Trump at a media briefing, with the visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Washington, on Monday offered to mediate on the Kashmir issue, saying that PM Modi had broached the subject with him during their meeting in Osaka, Japan, last month.
Trump said: "I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago, and we talked about the subject. And he actually said, 'would you like to be a mediator, or arbitrator', and I said 'where?', and he said 'Kashmir', because this has been going on for many, many years. I was surprised for how long it has been going on," to which Imran Khan interjected to say "70 years".
"I think they [India] would like to see it resolved, and I think you [Pakistan] would like to see it resolved. And if I can help, I would love to be mediator," he added.
To this end, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, at the Rajya Sabha denied any occurrence of such a discussion between the two.
He said, "The Shimla Agreement and the Lahore declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India and Pakistan bilaterally. Hence, and I would like to categorically assure the House that no such request has been made by PM Modi."
#WATCH: EAM S Jaishankar speaks in Rajya Sabha over the statement of US President Donald Trump that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to mediate in Kashmir issue. He says, "I would like to categorically assure the House that no such request has been made by PM Modi..." pic.twitter.com/gWjAa32bMO— ANI (@ANI) July 23, 2019
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16:00 | A meeting of all Opposition leaders is underway at the office of Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad. The Opposition is demanding that PM Modi should come to the House and issue a clarification on Trump's statement
RAJYA SABHA ADJOURNED
Despite the clarification, the Upper House broke into a disagreement and the Opposition demanded a reply from PM Modi instead.
As soon as the Upper House assembled for Question Hour mentions, members of all opposition parties, including the Congress, SP, BSP, DMK, TMC and CPI(M), were on their feet and demanded that the prime minister should come to the House and explain.
They even raised slogans like, 'We want an answer from the Prime Minister' and 'PM should come to the House'.
"Pradhanmantri jawaab do, jawaab do, jawaab do [PM Modi, answer us]," said the Opposition leaders in unison.
With Deputy Chairman Harivansh continuing with the Question Hour, members from Congress, AAP and CPI (M) came into the well of the House and raised slogans. Members of SP, TMC and DMK continued to be on their feet.
Amid uproar, senior BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who is also the minority affairs minister, rued that opposition parties do not trust their prime minister and government.
On demands that the prime minister make a statement in the upper house, Naqvi said the Opposition cannot dictate terms.
The External Affairs Minister has given a clear statement on the matter, he said, terming the opposition as "arrogant" and "irresponsible".
The statement made by Jaishankar is a collective response of the government, Naqvi said.
Harivansh urged members to return to their seats and let the Question Hour continue. As opposition members did not heed to his request, the Deputy Chairman adjourned the House till 12 pm -- then, 2 pm -- and lastly, 3 pm.
The Opposition leaders also stalled the proceedings in the Lok Sabha.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, to this end, said the Congress party would definitely keep raising the issue in the Parliament.
"You will see it in the House," she told reporters.
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, on his part, said though the Opposition trusted PM Modi more, and over Trump, it would still like a clarification from PM Modi.
OPPOSITION WALKS OUT OF LOK SABHA
Soon after the House assembled for the day, Congress floor leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury raised the issue followed by slogans by other opposition members.
Raising the issue of US President Trump's claims, Chowdhury said, "India has bowed before the US... We are not weak. The PM must reply."
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla interrupted and said: "This is a national and a very sensitive issue. The country's integrity and security is involved. We need to speak in one voice." He said he has received adjournment notice and assured the members that it can be discussed during the Zero Hour.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said the External Affairs Minister will make a statement in the House. "We all know who took the issue to the UN," he said in a veiled dig at Congress.
The Speaker said that there should not be any politics on the issue. "This is a serious issue. We need to have a constructive debate. Let's discuss this after the Question Hour."
Chowdhury insisted that the Prime Minister should reply but the Speaker intervened, saying, "Government will decide on who will reply."
Following this, the Opposition staged a walkout from the House.
THE STORM WAS IN THE OFFING SINCE MORNING
Earlier in the day, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar also said PM Modi had never made such a request to Trump.
"We have seen the US President's remarks to the press that he is ready to mediate, if requested by India and Pakistan, on the Kashmir issue. No such request has been made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the US President," he said in a tweet.
Kumar added: "It has been India's consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally. Any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross-border terrorism."
The Congress had, however, demanded an explanation from PM Modi.
Congress Spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted: "To ask a foreign power to mediate in Jammu and Kashmir by Modi is a sacrilegious betrayal of country's interests."