An answer to an unstarred Parliament question on Hamas has raised a storm.
Congress MP Kumbakudi Sudhakaran, who represents Kannur in the Lok Sabha, had asked whether the government has any proposal to declare Hamas a terrorist organisation and whether the Israeli government had made any demand in this regard to India.
The written answer to the unstarred question number 980, uploaded on the Lok Sabha's website, was attributed to Meenakshi Lekhi, a Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture. A picture of the question along with the response is being circulated on social media.
“Designation of an organisation as terrorist is covered under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and declaring any organisation as terrorist is considered as per the provisions of the Act by the relevant government departments,” said the answer to the question. However, the minister on Saturday clarified that she has not signed any paper with a question on the declaration of Hamas as a terrorist organisation. “You have been misinformed as I have not signed any paper with this question and this answer,” Lekhi, an MP from the New Delhi constituency, said in response to a post on X. An “inquiry will reveal the culprit”, she said.
Soon after Lekhi’s tweet, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said there seems to be a technical error. “We have noted that Lok Sabha Unstarred Question No. 980 answered on December 8 needs a technical correction in terms of reflecting V Muraleedharan as the Minister of State replying to the Parliament question. This is being suitably undertaken,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said. Muraleedharan is also a minister of state in the MEA. This evoked sharp reactions from the opposition.
“Is she (Lekhi) then claiming it is a forged response, if yes this is a serious breach and violation of the rules that prevail. Would be grateful for a clarification from @MEAIndia,” Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi said on X.
“Asking questions that were submitted through someone else led to the expulsion of an MP yesterday. Today a minister denies that reply to a PQ (Parliament Question) was approved by her. Shouldn't that be investigated too? Shouldn't it lead to seeking accountability, however innocuous the response from the Ministry of External Affairs?" Chaturvedi asked on X.
“Who logged in for you?” Congress leader Amitabh Dubey asked in response to Lekhi's post on X.