Govt seeks to play down Rajya Sabha embarrassment

The government on Tuesday evening sought to today play down the embarrassment it suffered in the Rajya Sabha as it was forced by the opposition to amend the motion of thanks to the President's address.

Parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the amendment had no relevance except as a reminder that the treasury benches do not have a majority in the upper house.

He said it was "unfair" on the part of the opposition to force this kind of amendment, but added that there was "nothing new" in it as it had happened three times earlier In India's parliamentary history.

Earlier in the day, the government suffered embarrassment in the Rajya Sabha when an amendment moved by the opposition to the President's address over corruption and black money was passed.

 The amendment was moved by CPI(M) members Sitaram Yechury and P Rajeeve. It was passed through a division after the government's plea for its withdrawal failed.

Thw amendment to the motion was carried in a division of votes by 118 to 57.

Naidu told reporters later that the amendment said there was no mention in the President's address of ''the failure of the government to curb high level corruption and to bring back black money'' stashed abroad, even though the address had highlighted in detail the measures being taken by the centre.

"It has no relevance. The opposition's criticism of the government is unfair," he said while noting that Finance minister Arun Jaitley had also spoken elaborately about the measures, including making a new law, to stop generation of black money and bring it back.

 He also rejected criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for leaving the Rajya Sabha after his address, saying he could not stay there after the opposition pressed for division of votes on its amendment as he was not a member of the house.

 "We tried to convince the opposition (against moving amendment). I wish it could have been avoided. It is just a reminder of the fact that we do not have numbers in Rajya Sabha. People are with us but we don't have a majority in the upper house," Naidu said.