Uproar in Lok Sabha over Hegde's remark on Mahatma

Adhir accuses BJP of insulting Mahatma Gandhi, Prahlad says Congress followers of 'fake' Gandhis

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury speaks in the Lok Sabha during the Budget Session of Parliament. LSTV/PTI

The Lok Sabha on Tuesday witnessed uproar over the comment made by ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's MP Ananth Kumar Hegde on the struggle for independence led by Mahatma Gandhi.

The MPs of the opposition Congress demanded an apology from the parliamentarian elected from Uttara Kannada constituency in Karnataka. They also staged a walkout from the House.

Adhir Chowdhury, leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, accused the ruling BJP of insulting Mahatma Gandhi. The BJP hit back, with Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Prahlad Joshi, stating that it had been following the principles of “real Gandhi”, while the Congress had been following the “fake Gandhis like Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi”.

Hegde of late triggered a controversy by purportedly claiming in a speech that the struggle for independence led by Mahatma Gandhi was “staged” and supported by the then British Government.

“They (the BJP MPs) are now insulting Mahatma Gandhi. They are insulting a devotee of Lord Rama,” Chowdhury said in the House during Zero Hour. He also made a controversial remark targeting the BJP MPs, but Speaker Om Birla ordered it to be expunged from the record of the proceedings.

“We, people of Bharatiya Janata Party, are the real 'bhakts'. We are the real followers of Mahatma Gandhi. These people are the followers of 'nakli' (fake) Gandhis like Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister said, responding to the leader of the Congress.

Joshi also said that Hegde had already clarified his remark and he had also been asked to express regret.

The Congress MPs were not convinced and they staged a walkout.

Earlier, several Congress MPs, like Gaurav Gogoi, K Suresh, Abdul Khaleque and Hibi Eden, had submitted notices seeking Speaker's nod to move adjournment motion so that the normal business of the Lok Sabha could be set aside for a discussion on the controversial statement by the BJP MP from Karnataka.

As soon as the Lok Sabha assembled for the day at 11:00 a.m., the Speaker led all the MPs to observe silence for a minute as a mark of respect for recently deceased former members of the House as well as for Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said of Oman. The Congress MPs then rose to speak on the controversy triggered by Hegde. The Speaker, however, did not allow them and went on to start the proceedings of the Question Hour. Some of the agitated Congress MPs trooped into well of the House, waving placards and raising slogans.

Adhir Chowdhury, the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, demanded a statement from the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government. The Speaker adjourned the House till 12:00 noon as the Congress MPs continued to raise slogans in spite of his repeated appeal for them to return to their seats.

Shortly after the House reassembled at 12:00 noon, Birla allowed Chowdhury to speak on the issue during Zero Hour. 

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