The visit of a Pakistani parliamentary delegation to the Lok Sabha today created a flutter with its members claiming that the Speaker did not meet them after giving time.
However, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said “they didn’t come. I was sitting there inside”, an apparent reference to the visitors failing to keep the 1 PM appointment with her.
The delegation comprising 12 Pakistani parliamentarians are here on an initiative taken by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency and their visit to Parliament House was arranged by Congress MP Mani Shankar Aiyar.
The delegation, which witnessed the proceedings of the House, said that the Speaker had given them time at 1 PM to meet. The delegation reached her office around seven minutes later.
They said that the Speaker had left her office by the time they reached her office in the Parliament House building.
The Speaker’s Office, however, rejected the charge saying Mahajan had waited for them at 1 PM but they did not reach the office on schedule.
The Speaker should have waited for couple of minutes, a member of the delegation complained.
Earlier, the Lok Sabha proceedings were observed by the delegation of legislators, who were seated in the Speaker’s Gallery.
When asked why the usual tradition of introducing the visiting foreign parliamentarians was not followed in this case, Aiyar, a Rajya Sabha member who is part of the initiative, said that such traditions would be followed only for the “official delegation” invited by Parliament.
“But it is purely a private initiative. The Speaker was very courteous in offering the Parliament House Library for a meeting,” Aiyar told PTI.
When queried whether the Pakistani delegation was not given “due respect”, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said, “I am concerned about Indian Parliament. I am concerned about my people. I don’t know”.
Pressed further, he said, “They have not approached me. They did not have the courtesy of informing the Parliamentary Affairs Minister. What can I do?”
He said “this is a serious issue, that too foreign affairs issue” to be dealt in a serious manner.
The Speaker’s Office said when an official delegation visits at the invitation of Parliament then they are seated in the special box and announcement is made.
Parliament sources said as courtesies were extended to the delegation, they should have refrained from talking to the media on the issue.