After prime minister Narendra Modi raised the issue during in election rallies in Uttar Pradesh last month, the issue of the alleged preferential treatment of graveyards over crematoria was raised by BJP members in the Bihar assembly on Friday.
Pandemonium ensued when the BJP members demanded as much government attention be given to the development of crematoria, as was showered on graveyards.
There were heated exchanges between the opposition and treasury benches, plunging the House into disorder, despite attempts by former minister Illiyas Hussain, who was in the chair, to restore sanity, with folded hands.
Raising the issue through a non-government resolution, BJP member Sanjay Saraogi sought to know the budgetary provisions for development and beautification of crematoria.
Minister-in-charge for home department in the house, Bijendra Prasad Yadav said, the issue was serious in view of growing population and the government would look into the matter and come up with a comprehensive policy in this regard.
To this, Saraogi said that the government had made a provision of Rs 700-crore for fencing graveyards, but did not given even Rs 25-crore for crematoria.
Amid the turmoil, deputy chief minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and health minister Tej Pratap Yadav (both RJD), stood up to take the battle to the opposition.
Tejashwi accused the BJP of trying to communalise the situation in Bihar in a desperate bid to set its agenda of “Vinash” (destruction) instead of “Vikas” (development), after its victory in UP elections.
“This is Bihar. Unlike in UP, you will not succeed in your mission here. We will not allow your communal agenda. You all were in the government for over seven years (2005-13). If the issue was so important, why didn’t you do anything about it? The leader of opposition should try to control his MLAs and tender an apology for their unruly behaviour,” Tejashwi said.
Leader of the opposition Prem Kumar (BJP) immediately hit back, saying, “Those who had looted Bihar for 15 years should not preach”, a reference to the RJD rule in Bihar from 1990 to 2005. This evoked strong protests from RJD members.
Despite repeated requests from the chair to withdraw the resolution, Saraogi stood firm with vociferous support from the opposition benches, forcing the chair to order a vote.
In the voice vote, the resolution was defeated. However, BJP members, led by Saraogi, trooped into the well and tried to overturn the reporters’ table, evoking immediate protest from the treasury benches against their “unruly behaviour”. The RJD and JD-U leaders insisted on action against Saraogi and other BJP leaders.
On March 6 also, the BJP had raised the issue of beautification and fencing of crematoria, as had been done with graveyards.