Lalu, Ananth bring LS down

House adjourned after BJP member describes RJD chief as traitor

Lalu, Ananth bring LS down

Parliament has not been without its share of bitter exchange of words, use of unparliamentary language and even violence engaged in by back-benchers. But on Wednesday, the Lower House was plunged to a new low as two front benchers—Ananth Kumar and Lalu Prasad—came close to blows over the BJP member’s description of the RJD chief as a “traitor.”

Kumar’s “gaddar” tag on Lalu Prasad set off unruly and ungly scenes in the Lok Sabha, disrupting legislative business and instigating unparliamentary exchanges among members.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, who was listening to the discussion on caste-based Census in the Lower House, rushed to Opposition benches to mediate and assuage frayed tempers. Chidambaram’s action did not help as the highly agitated warring sides refused to relent, culminating in adjournment of the House for the day.   

The Lok Sabha incident was yet another instance of free-for-all use of “unparliamentary” expressions and preceded the series of personality clashes that marked the developments during the week.

A discussion on caste-based census provoked heated war of words between the BJP MP from Karnataka and the RJD strongman. Pandemonium broke out when Kumar described Lalu Prasad as “gaddar” (traitor) while he was trying to describe the faulty method adopted for the census, a move, which he said, would bestow upon illegal Bangladeshi immigrants Indian citizenship.

The BJP member said in comparison to foreign countries where illegal migrants are “shot”, “imprisoned”  or “deported”, India provides them with citizenship which may one day could pave the way for their becoming MPs and “sitting” in Parliament.

When Kumar noticed a smile escape Chidambaram’s lips, he turned towards the home minister and said he could react if he wished to.  To this Chidambaram said: “You started well.. but now this rhetoric will not work. You think there was no illegal Bangladeshi migration during the National Democratic Alliance period?”

At this stage Lalu intervened and described the speech as an “RSS  agenda.” Lalu charged Kumar with propagating the Bharatiya Janata Party’s agenda by “repeatedly talking of Pakistan and Bangladesh and ignoring the issue of backwards in the Census exercise.”

 An agitated Kumar then said he would raise the issue suggested by Prasad, but would first take up the matter related to national security. He said the issue related to “internal disturbance and external aggression.”

Scoring point

In his elements, the Rashtriya Janata Dal leader again rose from his chair to intervene even while the BJP member was trying to score a point.  This incensed Kumar who said that Lalu Prasad was more concerned with the well-being of Pakistanis and Bangldeshis and was a “traitor.”

He asked the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief to clarify “whether you are with India or with Pakistan and Bangladesh.”  The comment provoked Lalu to move menacingly towards the Bharatiya Janata Party leader who remained firm and refused to take back his words. The clash between the two culminated in complete bedlam.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal   leader, backed by Samajwadi  Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav and Congress members, continued to challenge Ananth Kumar who was fully supported by his party members, including Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj.

Sensing that situation could go out of hand, Home Minister Chidambaram crossed over to the Opposition benches and sought to calm down Lalu Prasad and apparently asked Kumar to amend his address.

Adjournment

Proceedings were adjourned after order could not be restored in the House.
The Congress members, particularly , Sandeep Dixit (Delhi chief minister Sheila Dixit’s son), tried to champion Lalu’s cause. Dixit is a Congress MP from East Delhi which has a sizeable population of immigrants.

The Kumar-Lalu clash took place soon after Trinamool Congress (TMC) Member of Parliament Sudip Bandhopadhyay expressed regret for his un-parliamentary comment against Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s Basudeb Acharia on Tuesday. Lalu and Mulayam have registered a complaint with Speaker Meira Kumar.

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