In the discussion on the Rafale deal in the Lok Sabha, Trinamool Congress' Saugata Roy had Opposition members in splits when he likened Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Meghnad from Ramayana. Roy said Modi, like Meghnad in Ramayana, is not facing debate in the House and hiding behind Finance Minister Arun Jaitley (pictured). In Ramayana, Meghnad uses his magical powers to attack Ram's army from behind the clouds. Roy also said Jaitley's memory was failing him as he misquoted Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond. During his speech, Jaitley had pointed to sundry defence scams during Congress regimes: "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Thrice is conspiracy." Roy in the House, and later party colleague Derek O'Brien in a tweet, corrected Jaitley. "So FM Arun Jaitley misquotes Ian Fleming James Bond in Parliament to suit himself. Here is the correct quote: Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action..." The quote is from Fleming's 1959 novel, Goldfinger.
'Double A' vs paper planes
During the same discussion, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan barred Congress president Rahul Gandhi from taking industrialist Anil Ambani's name since he was not a member of the House. Gandhi said he would honour the Speaker's wishes and started referring to the industrialist as "double A". In his reply, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley did one better. He said the Congress leadership was sitting in the lap of one "Mr Q", an allusion to Ottavio Quattrocchi, who was once wanted in the Bofors case probe. Congress members soon entered the Well of the House to protest and also took to shooting off paper planes in the direction of the treasury benches. Jaitley said the Congress members were perhaps throwing paper planes in the memory of Eurofighter Typhoon, which was also in the race along with Rafale.
The story so far
Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu, who is also the Rajya Sabha chairman, launched the Rajya Sabha's calendar for 2019 on Wednesday. The calendar features 65 leaders, including 13 former chairpersons, 12 former deputy chairpersons, 26 leaders of the House and 14 leaders of the Opposition, since the inception of the Upper House in 1952. The calendar notes that for 34 years of its 66-year existence, the Rajya Sabha did not have a leader of the Opposition. Shyam Nandan Mishra of the Congress-O was the first leader of the Opposition from December 1969 to March 1971. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has the distinction of being the leader of the Opposition and the leader of the House in Rajya Sabha for the longest duration of over six years and 10 years respectively.