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Women power on display in Haryana assembly

International Women’s Day: Cong MLAs Shakuntala Khatak, Geeta Bhukkal take on minister Ram Bilas Sharma for his gender-based remarks, INLD’s Naina Chautala slams ruling BJP for failing to control rapes, murders

india Updated: Mar 09, 2018 14:25 IST
HT Correspondent
(Left to right) Geeta Bhukkal, Shakuntala Khatak and Naina Chautala.
(Left to right) Geeta Bhukkal, Shakuntala Khatak and Naina Chautala.

Women power was at display in the Haryana assembly on Thursday on the International Women’s day.

If the Congress MLAs Shakuntala Khatak and Geeta Bhukkal took on parliamentary affairs minister Ram Bilas Sharma for his gender-based remarks during the zero hour, the lone INLD woman legislator, Naina Singh Chautala, attacked the treasury benches for failing to control the incidents of rape and murder in the state.

Khatak and Bhukkal assailed Sharma when he made a gender-based remark in chaste Haryanvi while responding to INLD MLA Parminder Singh Dhull.

Dhull, during the zero hour, was speaking on the disparity in payment of compensation for land acquired in his constituency Julana in Jind district as compared to the sum paid for land acquired in the neighboring Rohtak district. Interrupting the INLD member, Sharma said in rustic Haryanavi, “Naani khasam karke bhaag gayi ab doton ko sazaa do.” Both Khatak and Bhukkal took umbrage to it.

Khatak hurls badge at minister’s desk

An upset Khatak then walked up to the minister and hurled at his desk a badge for the International Women’s Day and an invitation card for an event to honour women. Bhukkal too joined her Congress colleague in criticising the expression used by Sharma. “Today is the International Women’s Day and the remark made by the minister is in poor taste,’’ Bhukkal said.

Speaker Kanwar Pal then intervened to warn Khatak. “You can’t do this in the House. Please maintain the decorum,’’ he said.

The parliamentary affairs minister then tried to make amends by clarifying his remarks. “The problem is that Congress MLAs neither understand Punjabi not Haryanvi. Naani being the mother of one’s mom is most respectable to each one of us,’’ he clarified. However, Bhukkal was not amused. “Were his remarks decent?’’ she asked. The speaker then tried to pacify the Congress MLAs, saying what the Minister said was just a proverb.

Naina Chautala attacks govt

A usually reticent Naina Singh Chautala, the lone INLD woman MLA in the House, while participating in the discussion on the governor’s address, attacked the treasury benches for failing to control the growing number of crimes against women in the state.

“The rapes and killings in Kurukshetra, Panipat, Pinjore, Hisar……,’’ Chautala said while enumerating various incidents of crime.

Despite being heckled by the treasury benches, the INLD MLA did not back off. “I can also mention a number of things which would create uproar in the House, but I am just sticking to women’s issues. Aapki party (BJP) bhi doodh ki dhuli hui nahi hai (The BJP too cannot claim to be an untainted lot),’’ she said.

Speaking on the governor’s address, Congress MLA Geeta Bhukkal endorsed Naina Singh’s viewpoint on the rising crime graph. She also spoke on the BJP government’s splurge on events like Gita Jayanti, Swarn Jayanti celebrations etc. “It’s good to teach Gita’s message but it needs to be practised also,’’ Bhukkal said.

Alleging discrimination by the BJP government in terms of development, the Congress MLA said that slogan of ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ was hollow.

When Bhukkal questioned the hefty expenditure incurred on making security arrangements for BJP chief Amit Shah’s rally in Jind, social justice minister Krishan Bedi intervened to ask as to who was responsible for stationing of para-military troops in Mirchpur for such a long time.

“What about the money spent on them?,” Bedi said.

After being repeatedly heckled by Bedi, both Bhukkal and Khatak entered the well of the House to complain to deputy speaker Santosh Yadav. “A minister should behave like one. Our voice is being muzzled,’’ Bhukkal said.

Bedi, however, was seen making yet another series of remarks, often in his seat, as Bhukkal again lodged her protest.

The final bout

Bhukkal’s constant criticism forced finance minister Capt Abhimanyu to make an intervention. “She has been a minister. She should speak on facts. Aap apna naam sarthak karo (live up to your name). You are Geeta and all of us swear in the name of Bhagwad Gita…Please rediscover yourself,’’ the minister said.

A war of words then ensued between the finance minister and the Congress MLA.

“We are not intimidating anyone. Intimidation is their forte. The Congressmen do not even spare their own state president. At least spare a Dalit,’’ the minister said, in an indirect reference to the Bhupinder Singh Hooda camp’s rivalry with state party president Ashok Tanwar.

Bhukkal, however, snapped saying: “You could not even save you own house from being set afire. You do not inspire any confidence in the people of the state. You are complete failure,’’ she said.