In a clear-cut indication of strained relations between Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and the Opposition, the Deputy leader of Opposition VK Malhotra's remark that who would entertain complaints against the president officer left Chatterjee fuming. "If there is no respect for the chair, I wonder, will there be any respect for the house," he observed.
The report came when V Radhakrishnan of CPM complained that his notice for a full discussion on harmonious relations between the judiciary, the executive and the legislature was not entertained and instead a call attention motion was allowed.
Take it as a motivated decision, Speaker said, while seeking consent of the house for converting the call attention into a discussion. And, this prompted Malhotra's remark.
Earlier in the day, BJP member Kharabela Swain accused the Speaker of showing bias and not allowing BJP members from seeking clarifications during the question time.
As the tirade continued, an agitated Speaker wanted to know whether other members shared this view. The Left party members protested vehemently with some members of the Congress joining them.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs BK Handique quickly crossed over to opposition front rows and was seen urging BJP deputy leader VK Malhotra to restrain Swain. By then, several BJP members were on there feet supporting Swain.
An agitated Speaker said "this type of allegation I reject with emphasis...I totally reject your allegation".
He invited Leader of the Opposition LK Advani and the BJP deputy leader to go through records to ascertain whether there was any truth behind the allegation against him.
The NDA, which has made public its resentment over what it alleged the "partisan" attitude of the Speaker, on Wednesday decided to boycott meetings chaired by Chatterjee but attend Lok Sabha proceedings.