Treasury and opposition members nearly came to blows in Lok Sabha on Friday when Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan condemned in “no uncertain words” the “outlandish” remarks made by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
IMAGE: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said their voices were being stifled in Parliament. Photograph: ANI Photo
During Question Hour, when Gandhi asked a question related to establishment of medical colleges, Vardhan said before giving the answer, he would like to make a statement on the Congress leader’s recent comment on the prime minister.
Vardhan said he “condemns in no uncertain words” the “outlandish” remarks of Gandhi.
“Sir, please excuse me. Before I begin answering this question of dear Shri Rahul Gandhi ji. I want to condemn in no uncertain words the outlandish language that he has used against the prime minister of the country,” he said.
Speaker Om Birla asked the minister to stick to his answer.
As Vardhan continued reading out the statement, Congress MPs came to the Well strongly protesting against the minister’s move.
One of the Congress members from Tamil Nadu, Manickam Tagore, came to the treasury benches and attempted to aggressively reach Vardhan, who was sitting in the second row.
Immediately, Bharatiya Janata Party member from Uttar Pradesh, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, held Tagore by his arm to prevent him from reaching the union minister.
Congress MP from Kerala Hibi Eden tried to intervene.
Several MPs from both sides and union ministers, including Smriti Irani, prevented them from coming to blows.
“Guys, what are you doing. What is going on,” Irani was heard saying.
IMAGE: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan’s comment on Rahul Gandhi created a storm in Lok Sabha. Photograph: PTI Photo
Unnerved by the commotion, Vardhan continued reading his statement.
“In a recent speech, he (Gandhi) used words like 6 mahina baad, iss desh ka yuva, Narendra Modi ko dande maar maar ke desh se bahar karenge (After six months, youth of the country would beat Modi with sticks and throw him out),” Vardhan said.
The minister said Rahul’s father Rajiv Gandhi was a prime minister and even he was not targeted like this.
“I don’t think in the worst of cases our party leaders have made such outlandish personal remarks against him threatening to beat him with dandas (sticks) and throwing him out of the country,” Vardhan said.
“The entire House present here must in unequivocal terms condemn his remarks against our prime minister. We demand,” he said.
The speaker immediately adjourned the House till 1 pm.
After the House was adjourned, several MPs of the ruling BJP demanded expulsion of Tagore from the House.
“Sadan se bahar karo. Mafi maango (Expel him from the House. Seek apology),” BJP members were heard saying.
Another member was heard saying, “Rahul Gandhi mafi maango (Rahul should tender apology)”.
As soon as the House reassembled at 1 pm, Kirit Solanki, who was in the chair, adjourned proceedings till 2 pm.
When the House again met at 2 pm, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi condemned the Congress member’s attempt to attack Vardhan.
“It is highly uncalled for. If anything is wrongly spoken then it is up to the Speaker to take a call but trying to attack the minister is condemnable,” Joshi said.
As Congress members too were on their feet, A Raja, who was Chairing the proceedings of the House, adjourned it for the day.
BJP orchestrated ruckus: Rahul
Hitting back at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his “tubelight” barb, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said he does not behave like a prime minister.
He also alleged that the ruckus in the Lok Sabha was “orchestrated” to prevent him from questioning the government.
“Normally, a prime minister has a particular status, a prime minister has a particular way of behaving, a particular stature, our prime minister doesn’t have these. He does not behave in a prime ministerial way,” he told reporters outside Parliament.
Gandhi said this when he was asked about Modi’s “tubelight” barb at him during his reply to the motion of thanks to the president’s address in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.
He also said that “we are being stifled and we are not being allowed to speak in Parliament”. “They have suppressed our voices,” Gandhi said.
“The orchestrated ruckus in Parliament today was designed to prevent me from questioning the government. The youth of India can clearly see that the PM has no clue about how to tackle the unemployment crisis. To protect him, the BJP will keep disrupting Parliament, preventing debate,” the Congress leader said on Twitter later.
Gandhi told reporters that he was seeking to raise an issue of the people of his Lok Sabha constituency Wayanad not getting access to medical facilities in the absence of a medical college.
“But I was prevented from doing so,” he said.
It was Vardhan’s comments on Gandhi that led to the ruckus in the Lok Sabha with some Congress MPs, including Manickam Tagore, protesting in the Well of the House.
“The BJP obviously does not like me to speak in the House. In a completely unparliamentary manner, the Union health minister raised something that I said outside, which he has no business of doing during the Question Hour. So, we were raising it with the Speaker,” the former Congress chief said.
“I think, the main issue is that we are being stifled. We are not allowed to speak in Parliament. The health minister instead of giving an answer to my question, was raising some other issue. Where ever they can suppress our voice, they try to do that,” he said.
Gandhi denied that Tagore attacked anyone and alleged that he was instead attacked.
The Congress leader said people who are going to suffer as a result are the youngsters who are looking for jobs.
“Yesterday, the prime minister gave a long speech, I asked him what is happening about jobs and employment. The prime minister talked about Jawaharlal Nehru, he spoke about Pakistan and all sorts of things, the Congress party, but
the prime minister is unable to answer what he is doing to give jobs to the youth of the country.
“He is unable to give an answer and jobs to the youth, and that is why this drama that you saw today,” he said.
Gandhi along with Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury later met Speaker Om Birla over the ruckus in the House.