Rajya Sabha commotion resonates in Bihar, support for Harivansh pours in
In Bihar, where the BJP is part of the government in alliance with the JD(U) - the party that Rajya Sabha deputy chairman Harivansh belongs to - deputy chief minister Sushil Modi said the incident has “hurt the pride of Bihar”.Updated: Sep 22, 2020, 14:54 IST
The resonance of unruly scenes - torn papers, broken microphones and sloganeering - that unfolded in Rajya Sabha on Sunday when a group of MPs from the Opposition benches surrounded the Chairman’s desk, where deputy chairman Harivansh sat while conducting the House proceedings, is being felt in election-bound Bihar.
Harivansh is a native of the state and a member of the ruling JD(U). Senior BJP and JD(U) leaders, while condemning the Opposition MPs’ conduct, have made pointed references to the “heckling”, “abuse” and “disrespect” shown to him.
The Opposition MPs created a commotion in the House after the chair refused to grant more time for discussion on two contentious farm bills that were passed by a voice vote. The Opposition also alleged that their demand for seeking a division of votes was not met; violating the parliamentary procedure.
Congress’s Rajya Sabha MP, Jairam Ramesh alleged that the BJP is politicising the issue. He tweeted, “The shadow of the forthcoming Bihar elections has fallen over Parliament now. It is all very well for Constitutional authorities to demand respect. They must, in fact, command respect by their non-partisan actions.”
On Monday, Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who represents Patna Sahib constituency in the Lok Sabha, referred to the ruckus and said the party will not politicise the issue. Prasad, however, linked the issue to Bihari pride. “Harivansh ji is an eminent writer, we have all felt very bad at the treatment meted out to him. An eminent Indian who hails from Bihar was humiliated; the people of Bihar will give a response. Harivansh ji remained dignified… We will not make it a political issue but people are hurt,” the minister said.
The minister also trained his guns at the Opposition and said, “The way the Congress and the RJD were silent and even encouraged the protesting MPs in the Rajya Sabha, this will be told to the people of the state. Both the Congress and the RJD will have to answer.”
On Tuesday, following reports that the 8 MPs who were suspended for their conduct in the House declined to have the tea which Harivansh carried to their protest site inside Parliament complex, Prime Minister Narendra Modi put out two tweets to appreciate the deputy chairperson’s gesture.
“To personally serve tea to those who attacked and insulted him a few days ago as well as those sitting on Dharna shows that Shri Harivansh Ji has been blessed with a humble mind and a big heart. It shows his greatness. I join the people of India in congratulating Harivansh Ji,” the PM said.
In an earlier tweet, there was a reference to his Bihar roots. “For centuries, the great land of Bihar has been teaching us the values of democracy. In line with that wonderful ethos, MP from Bihar and Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson Shri Harivansh Ji’s inspiring and statesman-like conduct this morning will make every democracy lover proud,” the PM said.
This is the second time when the PM has invoked the deputy chairperson’s connection with the state where elections are expected in November. On September 14, when Harivansh was re-elected to the position for the second term, the PM mentioned how he belonged to “the land of democracy.”
“When anyone who is a seeker of democracy, from the land of democracy, Bihar, from JP’s (Jayprakash Narayan) and Karpuri Thakur’s land, from Bapu’s (Mahatma Gandhi) Champaran, steps forward to take responsibility, this is what happens… what Harivansh has accomplished,” the PM said while complimenting his conduct of the House.
Support for Harivash, who will undertake a day-long fast, anguished by the occurrence in the house and the “humiliating” conduct against him also poured in from Vice President Venkaiah Naidu who expressed displeasure over the ruckus in the House.
“This is a Gandhian way, this is the JP way. We shouldn’t try to score political points… Despite everything, Harivansh ji made tea at home and brought it for the protesting MPs,” Naidu said.
In Bihar, where the BJP is part of the government in alliance with the JD(U), the party that Harivansh belongs to, deputy chief minister Sushil Modi also said the incident has “hurt the pride of Bihar”.
While the NDA feels that the issue will impact the electoral outcome in the state, Shankar Dutt of the Patan University said the polls will be dominated by issues of “healthcare, employment and education that has not been able to address concerns about employability.”
“The statements made by the political parties are for scoring brownie points, but I don’t think it will have an electoral impact,” he said.
While a no-confidence motion against Harivansh moved by the opposition was not admitted, AAP’s Sanjay Singh, Derek O’Brien, and Dola Sen of Trinamool Congress; Congress’ Rajiv Satav, Syed Nasir Hussain, and Ripun Bora; CPIM’s KK Ragesh and Elamaram Kareem were suspended for the remainder of the session for “gross disorderly conduct” after the House passed a motion by voice vote.