In a rare moment in India’s parliamentary history, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Friday walked out of the House and threatened to resign after the confrontation between him and the Left MPs flared up once again.
A visibly hurt Chatterjee said he felt “tortured by the repeated questioning of his decisions”, in an apparent reference to his verbal duel with the Left MPs in the House.
The already strained relations between the Speaker and his former colleagues took a turn for the worse when Chatterjee rejected CPI-M leader Basudeb Acharia’s notice for an adjournment motion on the attacks on Christians in Orissa and Karnataka.
When the CPI-M and CPI members insisted that the issue be discussed, Chatterjee said: “This is most unfortunate. I will show you video clippings. Say where the discussion could have been allowed.”
The flashpoint came when Acharia rose to speak after the Speaker allowed him to initiate a short-duration discussion on the matter. As soon as he started speaking, CPI MP Gurudas Dasgupta tried to question the Speaker’s ruling.
A fuming Chatterjee slammed the Left MPs and said : “You are deliberately questioning my authority. If it serves your political intentions, I don’t mind. For days, you have been questioning the Chair. I am ready to go here and now if the House wants.”
Asking the members not to “insult the Chair as it would mean an insult of the House”, Chatterjee said: “I am prepared. I won’t sit in the Chair.” He then walked out and did not return again.
The CPI-M tried to downplay the spat with the Speaker, saying the party was only concerned with the parliamentary rules “and nothing more”.
CPI-M chief whip in the Lok Sabha Rupchand Pal said:“We have very good personal relations with him. We appeal to him not to take it personally and not be harsh on us.”