The 12 suspended Opposition Rajya Sabha MPs got a surprise on Monday when RJD chief Lalu Prasad called them up. He invited all of them to his residence, saying he cannot come to Parliament to meet them personally. By evening, the MPs went to meet him, and Lalu is learnt to said that their suspension was unjust and that the Opposition should show more aggression against the government. He is also said to have wondered why the Congress is not fighting the government with all its strength.
Amid increasing complaints from Opposition members that ministers are not giving proper replies in Question Hour, Speaker Om Birla on Monday had to call out repeatedly to the ministers to get their attention to reply to supplementary questions. First it was Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda, who was engaged in a discussion with his junior minister, Bishweswar Tudu. “Mantriji…mantriji…” Birla called out. It took almost a half-a-minute for Munda to respond. Munda later said he was discussing the reply. Later it was Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy, who was engrossed in reading his files. He also had to be called out for his reply. Someone from the Opposition camp was heard quipping that no minister is attentive in the House.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, who had come to India earlier in the year, called Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday to express his condolences over the death of CDS Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 armed forces personnel in a helicopter crash last week. Singh tweeted after the telephone chat, “Deeply appreciate the telephone call from…Lloyd Austin, who expressed his condolences on the demise of CDS General Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 armed forces personnel. Secretary Austin warmly recalled his meeting with Gen Rawat during latter’s recent visit to USA.” Gen Rawat had gone to the US in late-September and had held a series of high-level meetings with military and civilian leaders.