Assault on Pawar strongly condemned in Parliament

Leaders from different parties demanded stern action against the attacker as Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari condemned the assault on Pawar at a public function yesterday.

"People may express divergent views on any issue,... but the attempt to cause physical harm should be condemned by the entire House in the strongest terms," Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said.

Mukherjee, who is also Leader of the House, described Pawar as a senior politician and parliamentarian of long standing.

Agreeing with him, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj said, "no amount of words are sufficient" enough to condemn the attack on Pawar, who has always been "nice and decent".

Amid cries of 'shame, shame', JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav lambasted the electronic media for "showing one slap as 50 slaps by constantly focussing on such incidents and glorifying them".

He lamented that an attempt was being made to malign the entire political class despite the fact that several leaders have spent decades in selfless service. "This atmosphere needs to be changed," he said.

Among those who criticised the media were Dhananjay Singh of BSP, T K S Elangovan of DMK, Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI) and Putul Kumari (Ind), with some of them saying that channels were glorifying the wrong things for increasing their TRP (television rating
points).

Dasgupta attacked Hazare saying the way he reacted to the assault on Pawar was wrong. Yadav, Kumari and Reoti Raman Singh (SP) also took potshots at the Gandhian without naming him.

Maintaining that Indian democracy was passing through a difficult phase, Yadav said "lumpen elements" were ruling the roost as the political class and democratic institutions were being demeaned and defamed.

The NDA Convenor, who was repeatedly cheered by several members, warned that if institutions like Parliament are destroyed, then entire Indian democracy would be in peril.
All institutions should observe decency and decorum and not cross the 'lakshman rekha', Yadav said.

Pawar was not present in the House though he is a member of the Lok Sabha, but his daughter Supriya Sule was seen listening to the discussion with rapt attention.

CPI(M) leader Basudeb Acharia said while people have the right to protest government policies, this was not the way. "It is an insult to democracy," he said.

Dasgupta said if the culprit was protesting price rise and corruption in this manner, he was "actually weakening the protest on these issues."

"Slapping of a minister to protest is not acceptable in a democratic society. Parliament must condemn this method of protest. Individual vandalism is most heinous," he said.

Several members, including Raghuvansh Prasad Singh (RJD), Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM) and Reoti Raman Singh (SP), wanted a probe into how the attacker was going scot-free after he was involved in a similar incident some time back.

Some members like Bhratruhari Mahtab (BJD) wondered whether there was lack of security for Pawar or whether there was a breach.

All members including former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda (JD-S) and Anant Geete (Shiv Sena) wanted stern action against the attacker, with Gowda describing his action as "unpardonable".

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