New Delhi :  The opposition Congress mounted a relentless attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Rajya Sabha over his statement at the BJP’s national council that those who sought votes in the name of food security had surrendered at the WTO and signed an agreement.

The issue was raised even before the question hour could get going and forced two successive adjournments, with leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad and former commerce minister Anand Sharma leading the charge. They alleged that Modi was “belittling” Parliament and “misinforming” people on the issue at a time when the House is in session. Sharma charged the prime minister was “contradicting” his own Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on the matter.

Congress member Digvijay Singh also charged that the prime minister has contradicted his own Minister who had claimed earlier in the house that there is no change in the government’s stand at WTO.”The Prime Minister has made disparaging remarks against the previous government,” he said while adding that the Commerce Minister had stated that the Government has not deviated from the previous government’s stand.

There was a strong response from the treasury benches and the union finance minister Arun Jaitley insisted that there was no contradiction between the minister and the prime minister’s statements. Sitharaman also said, “Let us not give room for any kind of distortion…PM’s comments are very much in the background we have discussed.” She said the previous government had not moved for four years on the Peace Clause in the WTO agreement and “left it hanging”, adding, “It is important to read the Prime Minister’s statement in that context.”

 Sharma, however, objected to the use of “Peace Clause” phrase, which he claimed is not formal and is used only colloquially in the agreement. He said the Prime Minister’s statement has created confusion which needs to be clarified.

Later at a party briefing, Sharma observed that the question of food security is a matter of sovereign right and is never discussed in multi-lateral forums like the WTO. “The question of signing away food security at WTO simply does not arise,” he stressed.

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