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Protests, sloganeering mar PM's LS speech

New Delhi, Feb 7 (IANS) Protests and sloganeering by the Congress and Left party members echoed in the Lok Sabha as Prime Minister Narendra Modi replied to a debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President's Speech, in which he slammed previous Congress-led governments for not doing enough for the country's progress.

The Lok Sabha has been witnessing protests by government ally Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and YSR Congress since Tuesday. Both have alleged injustice to the recently bifurcated state, and are demanding a special package.

On Wednesday morning, as soon as the House met, members from the two parties trooped near Speaker Sumitra Mahajan's podium and kept raising slogans through the Question Hour.

An angry Speaker was seen reprimanding the members, but they did not go back to their seats.

However, when the Prime Minister was to start his reply just after noon, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar requested the protesting members to go back to their seats and let the Prime Minister speak.

The TDP members went back to their seats while the YSR Congress staged a walkout.

However, Congress leader in the House Mallikarjun Kharge questioned why the protests were not stopped when he was speaking in the House on Tuesday.

Soon after, the Congress members, along with members from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) trooped near the Speaker's podium and started raising slogans demanding justice for Andhra Pradesh.

Even as the Prime Minister slammed the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for the hasty bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh for political benefits, members from the Congress and the Left continued their protest.

The opposition MPs raised slogans in Telugu as well and were seen clapping in rhythm as they raised slogans.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi, who remained seated, was also seen clapping to the beats of the slogans at one point during the Prime Minister's reply.

Time to time, protesting members raised slogans saying "bhashanbazi band karo" (stop giving speeches) and "jumlebazi band karo" (stop making hollow claims).

However, more than halfway through the speech, Congress members got printed placards which raised questions on the Rafale deal and demanded a clarification from the Prime Minister.

Later, speaking to reporters outside Parliament, Rahul Gandhi said the Prime Minister should tell the nation the truth about the Rafale deal.

As the Prime Minister concluded his speech in the House, all members of the treasury benches stood up and were seen thumping their desk lauding the reply.

Congress members meanwhile staged a walkout soon after the speech was over.

The Speaker then passed the Motion of Thanks through a voice vote.

Rashtriya Janata Dal member Jay Prakash Narayan Yadav meanwhile stood on his seat and questioned why amendments were not taken up.

Soon after, TDP members, who were wearing bright yellow stoles and had yellow placards, once again trooped near the Speaker's podium.

The House was then adjourned till 3 p.m.

--IANS

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