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Alagiri still missing – eludes speaker on pet peeve Tamil

New Delhi, Feb 15 (Calcutta Tube) Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister M.K. Alagiri, who was invited by Speaker Meira Kumar to discuss his request to be allowed to answer questions in Tamil, has not yet come to meet her, an official in the speaker’s office said here Monday.

The budget session of parliament commences Feb 22 and there is an apprehension that if Alagiri continues to remain absent, it will create ruckus in parliament.

Alagiri was absent for many days during the budget session and the winter session of parliament last year and the minister’s absence had created uproar several times.

‘He has not come to meet the speaker,’ the official told IANS.

Before the winter session of the Lok Sabha commenced in November last year, Alagiri, said to be miffed over not being allowed to answer questions in Tamil, had written two letters to the speaker requesting her to allow him permission to do so.

Meira Kumar told reporters last month that she ‘requested him to kindly come’ to discuss the issue.

There was an uproar in Lok Sabha Nov 26 when Alagiri failed to show up even as the issue of shortage of fertilisers and seeds was being discussed in the house.

His deputy in the ministry, Srikant Jena gave reply in the house during the discussion.

In September too, Alagiri had requested the speaker to allow him to speak in Tamil as he was not fluent in either Hindi or English.

Citing precedents, senior Lok Sabha officials had then said that ministers should answer the questions either in English or Hindi as files containing the answers to questions are written in English and Hindi.

Earlier, AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa also supported Alagiri’s request that the Lok Sabha secretariat should extend an ‘interpreter service’ to him to answer the queries of MPs in Tamil.

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