Danish Ali seeks privileges charge against Ramesh Bidhuri; BJP issues notice too
Ramesh Bidhuri’s offensive remarks were expunged by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Om Birla, who also issued a stern warning to the BJP MP
NEW DELHI: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of Parliament (MP) Ramesh Bidhuri has kicked up a massive controversy for targeting fellow Lok Sabha member Danish Ali of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) with religious slurs and phrases that amount to hate speech during a momentous session in the new Parliament building this week.
The video of the verbal attack, which took place during a discussion on the success of Chandrayaan-3 on Thursday, went viral on Friday and provoked outrage from other parliamentarians, some of whom --- including Ali – sought action over breach of parliamentary privilege. The party issued Bidhuri a show-cause notice, giving him 10 days to explain why action should not be taken against him.
The remarks were expunged by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Om Birla, who also issued a stern warning to Bidhuri, saying “any recurrence of such behaviour in future” will lead to strict action. But other leaders said that this action was inadequate and warranted a suspension at the very least.
Separately, Om Pathak, the secretary of BJP’s disciplinary committee, issued a notice to Bidhuri to explain his conduct within a deadline of ten days. “The notice says he has used unparliamentary language that is unbecoming of a BJP member as it violates well- established culture, decorum and direction of the party,” a person aware of the contents of the letter said, asking not to be named.
In the video from the House, Bidhuri – the MP from South Delhi -- was seen and heard using derogatory words that were repeated in tweets by Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah as they hit out at the BJP parliamentarian, and by BSP’s Ali in a letter of complaint to the Speaker.
Ali, who was subjected to religious rants, filed a notice for breach of privilege against Bidhuri. In his letter to the Speaker to seek a privilege action against the BJP leader, Ali wrote: “During the course of his speech he directed the most foul, abusive invectives against me which are part of the record of the Lok Sabha. Among the words he directed against me were Bhadwa (pimp), Katwa (circumcised one), Mullah ugravadi (Muslim terrorist), atankvadi (terrorist) etc.”
“This is most unfortunate and the fact that it has happened in a new parliament building under your leadership as Speaker is truly heartbreaking for me as a minority member of this great nation and an elected Member of Parliament as well,” Ali wrote, “I therefore intend to give this notice under rule 222, 226, 227 of the rules of procedure and conduct of business in Lok Sabha and direction of Speaker against Ramesh Bidhuri, MP.”
These rules pertain to privilege motion against a member.
Lok Sabha speaker Birla’s office said he has taken a “serious note” of Bidhuri’s conduct in the House and warned him of ‘’strict action’’ if such behaviour is repeated in the future. Ali, too has written to the Speaker, demanding action against Bidhuri for using “abusive language.”
In a post on X, Moitra demanded that Bidhuri be made an example of. “BJP MP @rameshbidhuri calling MP Danish Ali a ‘Bharwa’ (pimp), ‘Katwa’ (circumcised), ‘Mullah Atankwadi’ & ‘Mullah Ugrawadi’ (Muslim terrorist) ON RECORD in Lok Sabha last night,” she wrote, tagging Birla, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and BJP chief JP Nadda, who issued a show cause notice to Bidhuri.
Her post was made before the remarks were expunged.
Former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Abdullah referred to a report saying Birla has warned Bidhuri of “strict action” if such behaviour is repeated. “Opposition MPs have been suspended for trivial offences & here outright abuse is condoned,” he wrote in the post.
Abdullah repeated the words Bidhuri used against Ali and said how easily expletives rolled off the BJP MP’s tongue. “Hate against Muslims has been mainstreamed like never before. How do Muslims who identify the BJP as their party coexist alongside this level of abject hatred?”
Ali wrote to Speaker pointing out that the language used by Bidhuri was “foul and abusive”, and demanding action.
From the BJP, defence minister Rajnath Singh expressed regret over Bidhuri’s statements. “I express regret if the opposition is hurt by the remarks made by the MP,” he said in the House on Thursday.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said this is simply not acceptable. “It is a half-hearted apology, an afterthought. What [Ramesh] Bidhuri has said is an insult to the Parliament.” Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury too wrote to Birla, saying “never in the history of Parliament have such words been used against a MP of a minority community.”
Chowdhury demanded the matter be examined in detail by the privileges committee. “Expunging the remarks from the records of the House has no meaningful impact. Considering the circumstances and the brazen violation of all norms and rules relating to the functioning of the House, it would only be appropriate to have the matter examined in detail by the Privileges Committee and punitive action taken against the errant Member, Ramesh Bidhuri.”
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi later posted a photo with Ali, with the caption: “nafrat ke bazar mein mohabbat ki dukaan”, (in a market of hate, a shop for love).
According to a BJP functionary, the statement has “upset” the high command. The leader, not wishing to be quoted, said the party leadership has taken a serious view of the transgression by the MP on the floor of the House. “The party leadership is very clear that any kind of unparliamentary behaviour even with the political opponents will not be condoned. It is a standing instruction to all our members to be careful with the choice of words,” the leader said.
A second leader, also speaking on condition of anonymity said, Bidhuri’s comments have come at a time when the party and the government were celebrating the passage of the much-awaited women’s reservation bill, a landmark legislation that reserves 33% of seats in the Lok Sabha and legislative assemblies for women.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ministers drew attention to the positive steps taken by the government for the benefit of all communities, particularly Muslim women by banning Triple Talaq. His statements upend the work that is being done by the government,” the second leader said.
The comments threaten to cast a shadow over the BJP’s minority outreach.