PM Encouraging New Talent in a Democratic Way: Naidu

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is "encouraging young talent" in Parliament and acts in the "most democratic manner" while taking decisions, government said today dismissing criticism of his functioning by the Opposition.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu rejected allegations that there was centralisation of power in the hands of the Prime Minister and that he was "terrorising" the bureaucracy, saying it was mere "propaganda" by a "direction-less" Opposition.

Repudiating suggestions that the PM was reluctant to face questions in Parliament, Naidu said, "Questions are answered in Parliament as per the practice in Parliament... And they are answered effectively. Prime Minister is engaged in encouraging young talent, giving opportunity to young talent."

He said the opposition to junior ministers being given opportunity is difficult to fathom.

"If there is any need for supplementation, Prime Minister is sitting there behind. That has been the practice. PM is giving opportunity to the MoS. Why anyone should have any grievances for that?," Naidu said at a Meet the Press programme at the Press Club of India.

He was asked as to how often the Prime Minister answers questions in Parliament as there have been days fixed in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha during the question hour for him.

Naidu releasd a booklet "Tidings of a new beginning" on the recently concluded Budget session of Parliament, the first after Modi government came to power. The occasion was also utilised by him to list out achievements of the government in the first 100 days.

At the outset, Naidu dismissed as opposition propaganda that power is concentrated in the hands of the Prime Minister.

Noting that the Prime Minister acts in the "most democratic manner", he said that he takes views of all his colleagues before a decision is arrived at.

"Where is centralisation? Opposition friends are unhappy....Adrift and direction-less".

He dismissed as absurd Opposition's contention that the Prime Minister was "terrorising" bureaucracy. "Where is the question of terrorising bureaucracy. Congress has not been able to recover from the realities of the situation."

Asked whether the appointment of the Lokpal would face problems in the absence of a Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, he said mere absence of one member of the Selection Committee "will not create a void".

"I don't want to react on an issue which is there before the highest court of the land. Secondly, as far as the institutions, the position is very clear, if such institution has been created....Mere absence of one member of that committee will not create a void. That is the factual...," he said. 

Reacting to a question on appointment of LoP, Naidu said the government had no role in it and the Speaker had to take a decision.

"That has been addressed effectively. As per the Rules and traditions that has been addressed. That (the issue) is not in the hands of the government. ...Misconception in the minds of the people... Government has no role.

"The government has role in formation of a government. Not in ......Leader of Opposition. That is left to the presiding officer and there are rules, regulations and also precedents that from time to time, various governments and various presiding officers have adhered to".

Last month, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan rejected the Congress' demand for giving it LoP status.

Claiming that government has accommodated Opposition to the "maximum extent possible", he suggested that the opposition parties on the other hand had given several notices for suspension of question hour.

Naidu also dismissed as "false propaganda" suggestions that the government has plans to put restrictions on the media and the influence of the RSS in its functioning was growing.

On an al-Qaeda video targeting India, he said that the terror outfit is "enemy of mankind" and those believing in democracy should join hands to crush such organisation mercilessly.

"All steps will be taken to effectively counter Al Qaeda within India," he said.

With regard to holding elections in Delhi, Naidu said that an assessment has to be made by the Lt Governor and a decision has to be taken.

On the harassement of fishermen from Tamil Nadu by Sri Lanka, Naidu said that it was an important issue and "we have to ultimately sit with Sri Lanka for permanent resolution on it".

He claimed that Prime Minister's popularity is growing and this could be gauged from the fact that the latest survey by a news magazine shows that the BJP will gain 314 and NDA 344 seats in the Lok Sabha if elections are taken now.

To a question whether L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi have been sent to 'retirement home' through the creation of the 'Margdarshak Mandal" after Modi came at the helm, he said that there was no question of retirement and what was being witnessed is a generational shift.

Listing the 100 steps taken by the government in the 100 days, he said "as a result of Prime Minister's words and deeds, people of the country see an able and decisive leader in Narendra Modi".

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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