Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar's decision to cancel her eight-day tour of South Africa and Namibia, beginning Sunday, seems to have been prompted by the BJP's refusal to join her delegation.
The speaker's office had said on Friday that the decision to cancel the tour was taken
"following the sad demise of a brave young girl who was victim to a most heinous crime in a moving bus in South Delhi and the public outcry following the incident".
HT has, however, learnt that much before the tragic death of the 23-year-old girl on December 29, the BJP parliamentary party had stated that Lok Sabha opposition leader Sushma Swaraj would not be able to be a part of the delegation due to "unavoidable circumstances".
The main opposition party had also clarified that it would not be able to provide a replacement for Swaraj to accompany Kumar on the trip. The BJP did not give any specific reason for staying away.
The BJP was understood to be upset over the sequence of events in the House on December 20, during the last day of the winter session in Parliament.
The trouble started when Advani stood up to speak on the issue of quota in promotions for scheduled caste and scheduled tribes, but was not allowed to do so.
Congress MP PL Punia, meanwhile, continued to speak. Protests from several BJP MPs did not yield any results and, finally, Advani had to sit down without being able to air his views.
Party leaders Ananth Kumar and Shahnawaz Hussain were among those unhappy with the Speaker's move in this regard.
While refusing to spell out whether this was actually the reason for BJP leaders opting out of the proposed trip, a BJP MP told HT: "One thing is for sure. Many of us think she acted in a partisan manner in not allowing Advani to speak."
The speaker's office, however, has denied any link between the cancellation of the tour and the events that transpired in the House.
(Inputs from Vikas Pathak)
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