An angry Irani told the Congress members not to shout at her.
New Delhi: As an emotionally surcharged discussion on the burning of Unnao rape victim turned into a political row leading to an aggressive face-off between Union minister Smriti Irani and two Congress MPs in the Lok Sabha on Friday, leading to the adjournment of the House without doing much business. The BJP, which had earlier sought their unconditional apology, gave notice to Speaker Om Birla seeking the suspension of the two Opposition lawmakers.
The BJP is learnt to have complained that the two Congress members should be suspended for their alleged unruly behaviour against Ms Irani in the Lower House.
The notice to move a motion to suspend the Congress MPs for the remaining period of the Winter Session was given by parliamentary affairs minister Prahlad Joshi, official sources said.
The motion will be pressed if the two members — T.N. Prathapan and Dean Kuriakose — do not tender an unconditional apology to the minister in the House, they said. Earlier, during a heated debate in the Lok
Sabha on the burning of a rape victim in Unnao, the two MPs left their seats and entered the aisle near the Well, when Ms Irani was speaking, displaying allegedly “threatening positions”.
Temperature rose in treasury benches when Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury took a jibe at the BJP during Zero Hour, saying “Sita is being burnt everywhere” — a reference to the Unnao case — while plans are afoot to build a Ram temple in UP.
Uttar Pradesh has become an “adharm pradesh” (lawless state), he alleged, and also referred to rapes in Malda and Hyderabad.
A few other members also spoke on the issue of sexual violence against women, rape and the early morning Hyderabad encounter before Ms Irani, an MP from Amethi in UP, launched a blistering counter-attack on the Opposition, saying the Unnao matter was being “communalised and politicised”.
She also attacked the Trinamul Congress, whose member Saugata Roy had spoken before her for not referring to a similar case in Malda in West Bengal.
“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,” she said.
She also alleged during the “West Bengal panchayat elections... rape was used as a political weapon”, and added that the Unnao incident was “inhuman” and a “brutal crime”, whose perpetrators should be awarded the death penalty.
As she continued with her aggressive attack on the Opposition, T.N. Prathapan and Dean Kuriakose of the Congress left their seats and entered the aisle near the Well. They were heard shouting as they charged towards the treasury benches. Mr Prathapan was seen rolling up his sleeve and both members were pulled back by their colleagues.
An angry Ms Irani told the Congress members not to shout at her. An uproar broke out in the House and Union minister Prakash Javadekar sought an apology from the Congress members, saying that the treasury benches condemned their act.
MoS parliamentary affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal said Ms Irani was speaking on behalf of the government and she was interrupted. Pointing to Ms Irani, Gaurav Gogoi of the Congress said she was the one who had
made political comments and triggered the row.
“We were only seeking an explanation as to what the government was doing,” he said, adding that Ms Irani made an attacking speech.
“We were protesting this. In protest, we did not come into the Well of the House but protested from our seats,” Mr Gogoi said.
Soon after this, Speaker Om Birla said that it was not proper to make political comments and to come to the Well of the House to threaten anyone. Later, when the House met again after the lunch break, the government sought an apology from the two Congress members, who were not present, for their “threatening position” towards Ms Irani.
“This is the most condemnable behaviour. They came in a threatening position when she was speaking. She is a lady member of the House. It is most uncalled for and they should apologise,” parliamentary affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi said.
When the House met again, members from other parties, including the BJD’s Anubhav Mohanty and AAP’s Bhagwant Mann joined the BJP leaders in
condemning the two Congress MPs and sought strict action against them.
Mr Joshi said the two members had deliberately not come back to the House and demanded that they either apologise or be suspended. Mr Prathapan was one of the two Congress members who were recently
named by the Speaker and not allowed to attend the House for a day for misbehaving with marshals.
Mr Chowdhury rose to speak but Meenakshi Lekhi, who was in the Chair, expressed her unhappiness at the absence of the two members and then suspended the proceedings for the day. The House will now meet again on Monday.