Voicing concern over the fire on board the Russian-made submarine Sindhurakshak at the naval dockyard in Mumbai, Shiv Sena member Bharatkumar Raut and BJP member Chandan Mitra demanded a statement from Defence Minister AK Antony in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
Raising the issue, Raut said it is a serious incident and many naval personnel on board the submarine were trapped and the Defence Minister must inform the House as to what is the status. "The House should be informed immediately. Defence Minister should come here and make the statement," Raut said.
He said senior Ministers are sitting in the House but nobody is taking cognisance. "There should have been a suo motu statement," he said.
He was joined by Mitra, who demanded that the Defence Minister must inform the House today itself about the incident. "He should make a statement today itself, as the House will not function tomorrow," Mitra said.
Deputy Chairman P J Kurien, who was in the Chair, then said, "This is a very serious incident. Defence Minister has gone to the spot. Let him come back. The Defence Minister has informed that he is going to Mumbai...As soon as he comes back, he will make a statement."
On members' insistence that the Defence Minister should make a statement today itself, Kurien said, "As soon as the Defence Minister returns, he should make the statement today itself."
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rajeev Shukla said, "Let him come back, I will ask the Defence Minister to make a statement either today or tomorrow. He cannot make a statement in haste."
He also said that since the Chair has given a direction on making the statement today itself, it is binding.
As opposition members continued their demand that someone from the government should make a statement, Kurien said it is the Defence Minister alone who should give a statement, saying he is aware of the facts better.