Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma draw Oppn fury as CAA row spills over to House
Two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders in the eye of the storm over inflammatory statements and slogans during the Delhi election campaign were the focal points of a discordant day in the Lok Sabha as a controversial speech by West Delhi parliamentarian Parvesh Verma and an attempt to speak by minister of state for finance Anurag Thakur led to booing, storming of the Well, and walkouts by Opposition MPs.
Verma, who was on January 30 barred by the Election Commission from campaigning in Delhi for 96 hours for suggesting that the protesters at Shaheen Bagh would enter homes and “rape and kill” women, initiated the debate on the Motion of Thanks on the President’s address in the Lower House on Monday.
Taking on the Congress for its opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), Verma said: “They should know that it is not Rajiv Feroze Khan government, it is Narendra Modi’s government.” The statement, which led to criticism by the Opposition benches, was a reference to Feroze Gandhi, the father of former PM Rajiv Gandhi. It appeared that the “Khan” reference was to suggest that Feroze Gandhi was a Muslim, though he was a member of the Parsi community.
By the time Verma spoke, several Opposition members had walked out in protest against his remarks. During the course of the Delhi campaign, Verma was also seen referring to chief minister Arvind Kejriwal as a “terrorist”.
Verma, in his speech on Monday, accused the Congress for “countless corruptions” and practising “vote bank politics”. He maintained that the protesters in Shaheen Bagh were demanding “separation of Assam and Jammu & Kashmir from India”.
He asked the Opposition leaders to chant “Jai Shri Ram” to wash away the “sins”of Shaheen Bagh protesters. “He was banned by the EC but is supported by the BJP,” Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi said, adding it showed that the controversial remarks of the BJP leaders had “tacit approval from the top”.
The Trinamool Congress’s Mahua Moitra said the CAA, the National Population Register (NPR) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) are the “biggest betrayals” to India. “You put a person banned by EC to speak in Parliament,” she said about the party’s decision to get Verma to open the Motion of Thanks speeches. Earlier, during Question Hour, when Thakur stood up to reply to questions fielded to the finance ministry, he was heckled by Opposition leaders who stormed into the Well with slogans referring to Thakur leading “shoot the traitors” chants during a Delhi poll rally last month.
In Rithala on January 27, Thakur was seen shouting “Desh ke gaddaron ko...”, to which the crowd responded, “goli maaro saalon ko”. On January 30, the EC had banned Thakur from campaigning in Delhi for 72 hours.
On Monday, the Opposition leaders chanted slogans suggesting that such sloganeering was unacceptable. The words they used, however, were not recorded in the proceedings of the House.
During Zero Hour, which followed Question Hour, the Congress floor leader, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, also lashed out at the BJP, saying its leaders were “fake Hindus” and the government cannot “muzzle the common people with bullets”, in an indirect reference to Thakur’s comments and a campaign speech in which UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath said some people cannot be controlled through “boli” (talk) but only through “goli” (bullets).
Proceedings in the Rajya Sabha, too, were washed out on Monday as Opposition members raised slogans against the government, demanding a debate on CAA and NPR. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to reply to Motion of Thanks debate in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.