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Opposition disrupts Lok Sabha proceedings over Hegde’s remarks mocking seculars

Opposition members protested against the comments that were made on Wednesday, demanding Hedge’s removal from the Council of Ministers.

india Updated: Dec 27, 2017 18:09 IST
Press Trust of India, New Delhi
Ananthkumar Hegde,Lok Sabha,Winter session
Opposition members gather at the Lok Sabha’s well to protest against the statement’s of Union minister Ananthkumar Hedge (pictured here) on secularism.(Twitter)

The Opposition on Wednesday virtually paralysed the Lok Sabha proceedings demanding dismissal of Union Minister Anantkumar Hegde for his controversial comments on secularism and the Constitution while the government appeared distancing itself from his comments.

Raising the issue in the House which witnessed repeated adjournments, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge quoting Hegde said the minister compared those supporting secularism to “children of unknown parentage”, besides denigrating Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar, the architect of the Constitution.

“He (Hegde) said ‘those who support secularism are like people without parentage. We do not know their bloodline. They do not know their parents but they call themselves secular. If someone says I am a secular, I get suspicious’,” Kharge quoted Hegde as saying at a function in Karnataka on Sunday.

Calling the remarks totally unacceptable, the Congress leader further said, “It means we all who support secular thoughts are not born to their parents.”

The Congress members also displayed posters demanding immediate sacking of Hegde, who is the Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.

Kharge alleged that Hegde had also denigrated the architect of the Constitution, BR Ambedkar, by his remarks that the current dispensation came to power to “change” it.

The opposition uproar led to several adjournments of the House.

Rejecting Kharge’s comments, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar claimed the Congress leader was trying to distort what Hegde had said. He, however, did not comment on Hegde’s remarks or try to defend him.

“B R Ambedkar is the father of the Constitution and we respect him. The Prime Minister had said the Constitution is our national book (Rastriya Granth). We are committed to it and secularism. The Congress should not teach us secularism,” said Kumar, while asking the opposition not to disrupt the proceedings.

“The Congress is indulging in pseudo-secularism. You (Congress) did not allow Baba Saheb Ambedkar to contest polls. He was brought to Rajya Sabha by Jan Sangh,” he said, listing steps taken by the government to preserve Ambedkar’s heritage.

Kumar said the opposition was training its guns on the government for not convening the Winter Session of Parliament and when it has been called, it was disrupting the proceedings.

He made the statement amid shouting of slogans against Hegde by the opposition.

At a function in Karnataka on Sunday, Hegde had reportedly said people should identify themselves by their religions and “those who, without knowing about their parental blood, call themselves secular, they don’t have their own identity...They don’t know about their parentage.”

He had also said “we are here to change the Constitution and we’ll change it.”

When the Lok Sabha met at 2:45 PM after the third adjournment and some members entered the Well displaying posters, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan reminded them of the rules of the House.

The House was first adjourned till noon and then till 2 PM due to unabated opposition protest on the issue.

The Lok Sabha was again adjourned at 4 PM for 15 minutes amid uproar in the House over Hegde’s remarks.

The demand to adjourn the House was made by RSP MP N K Premachandran when Finance Minister Arun Jaitley introduced the Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to States) Amendment Bill.

As the House was witnessing ruckus, Premachandran said the GST Bill was a crucial legislation and cannot be passed amidst din and urged the Speaker to adjourn the proceedings to ensure smooth discussion.

The TRS members, who were demanding a separate high court for Telangana, were also in the Well, along with members of the Congress. Some other members raised concerns over the treatment meted out to the family members of Kulbhushan Jadhav by Pakistan.

Despite repeated requests from Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, about 20 members continued to protest in the Well of the House.

As the protests continued unabated, Mahajan asked the members to return to their seats. “If you don’t want the government to say something, then let it go,” she said.

She also told Kharge that his party had reservations over lesser number of sitting in the Winter session but was stalling the proceedings when the House was on.

Amid the din, papers were laid and a few members spoke during Zero Hour but as the unruly scenes continued, Mahajan adjourned the House till 2 PM after about 20 minutes of proceedings.

Before this, the House was adjourned for about 50 minutes soon after the Question Hour had begun at 11 AM.

Congress members raised slogans demanding removal of Hegde from the Council of Ministers, while members of the TRS also joined them with placards demanding a separate high court for Telengana.

Some Shiv Sena members raised slogans against Pakistan, apparently over the treatment of Jadhav’s family members. Some BJP members also joined them in raising slogans like ‘Pakistan murdabad’ (down with Pakistan).

During Question Hour, Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Kharge had then too briefly raised the issue of remarks by Hegde, following which his party members rushed into the Well raising slogans such as ‘Ambedkar ka apman nahin chalega’ (We will not tolerate the insult of B R Ambedkar -- a key framer of the Constitution).

First Published: Dec 27, 2017 12:27 IST