Lok Sabha was adjourned within half an hour in the afternoon after two Congress MPs, who allegedly moved towards Union minister Smriti Irani in a threatening manner, failed to appear in the House. Chairing the session, Meenakshi Lekhi did not allow the Congress Leader of the House to speak, mentioning that he had failed to get the MPs to the House, and adjourned the House till Monday.
In the morning, Dean Kuriakose and TN Prathapan — Congress MPs from Kerala — got into a shouting match with Irani when she rose to speak on the Hyderabad rape-murder and encounter in Zero Hour.
She said Congress’ Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had communalised and politicised the issue.
Earlier, Chowdhury had, in reference to the Unnao case, said that in Uttar Pradesh, while a Ram temple was being built at the site of the demolished Babri mosque, ‘Sita was being set on fire’. UP has become ‘adham pradesh’ (inferior state), he had alleged.
Irani also pointed to TMC’s Saugata Roy for not mentioning a similar incident in West Bengal’s Malda. She launched a counter attack on the Opposition, saying the Unnao matter was being ‘communalised and politicised’. ‘Yes, setting afire a woman is condemnable, a heinous crime. Yes, the rape and killing of a woman is inhuman, but do not politicise the issue. No one has ever communalised the issue in this House,’ the Amethi MP said.
She alleged that during ‘West Bengal panchayat election, rape was used as political weapon’, and that the Unnao incident was ‘inhuman’ and a ‘brutal crime’ whose perpetrators should be awarded death penalty.
As she continued her attack, Prathapan and Kuriakose left their seats and entered the aisle near the Well. They were heard shouting as they charged towards the treasury benches. Prathapan was seen rolling up his sleeve and both members were pulled back by their colleagues. An aggressive Irani was heard shouting at them: ‘What will you do?’ She told Congress members not to shout at her.
After the incident, as proceedings began at 2.30 pm, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi said, ‘…we had made a specific request, through you, that their behaviour was highly condemnable; and they should apologise. I feel that deliberately they have not reached the House.’
He said that women members were highly agitated. ‘I appeal to you that either they should be summoned and they should be directed to tender their apology, or else, they should be suspended from the House. This is my firm demand.’
Lekhi then allowed MPs to speak on the issue. When Chowdhury arrived in the House about 20 minutes into the proceedings, he sought permission to speak but BJP members protested. Lekhi said: ‘Adhir ji, I had given you an hour’s time but those MPs have not been produced.’ Chowdhury insisted that he be allowed to explain, but Lekhi cut him short and adjourned the House for the day. Irani sat quietly through the proceedings.
Members who spoke during a brief discussion on the incident included BJD MP Anubhav Mohanty, BJP MP SS Ahluwalia and BJP MP Rama Devi.
Mohanty said that not only women but even men in the House had been outraged by the behaviour of Congress MPs. Ahluwalia said it was an unfortunate incident when the House was discussing the very important issue of women safety. Rama Devi, who had earlier protested against the behaviour of SP MP Azam Khan forcing him to apologise, said mere apologies would not be enough this time and the MPs must be punished.
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