Minister Jyoti will not quit over hate speech, government tells opposition parties
An adamant and united opposition Wednesday continued to disrupt both Houses of Parliament demanding Union minister Niranjan Jyoti be sacked over her hate speech even though the government ruled out her resignation.
Opposition MPs refused to treat the matter as closed and forced repeated adjournments of both Houses demanding an explanation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In Rajya Sabha, parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu rejected their demands citing controversial remarks made in the past by leaders from other parties as well.
“There is no question of resignation of minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti,” said Naidu.
Opposition leaders asked the Prime Minister, who was present in Lok Sabha, to explain why the union minister had not been fired despite her hate speech.
Chaos in Lok Sabha
As soon as Lok Sabha took up Question Hour, leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge said in apparent sarcasm that it is a privilege that the Prime Minister is present in the House.
He said since the Prime Minister was himself present in the House, he was insisting on the resignation of Jyoti from the council of ministers for her controversial remarks.
Reacting to Kharge’s taunt, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members retorted saying Modi has been attending parliamentary proceedings.
Soon, Congress members, joined by Trinamool Congress and MPs from other opposition parties, trooped into the Well demanding a reply from the PM. They also demanded her resignation and lodging of an FIR against the Union minister.
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said if records are checked then most of the members would be found having made controversial remarks in their public life.
BJP’s women MPs too criticised the opposition for repeatedly disrupting Parliament over the incident saying they were doing so as they had run out of issues.
“Congress and TMC created a scene. To oppose it we also stood on our feet. The sad thing is when the NDA government’s minister has apologised, then raising the same issue again for the second day, we condemn it,” BJP MP Poonam Mahajan said.
Mahajan, who was accompanied by a group of women MPs of her party, said that members wanted to raise issues related to development of their constituencies but the opposition was not allowing proceedings in the Question Hour or Zero Hour by disrupting Parliament.
She claimed the opposition parties like Congress and TMC just wanted to create a scene before the Prime Minister.
“They don’t have issues and they don’t have a leader. That is why they have done it,” Mahajan said.
Similar scenes in Rajya Sabha
BJP members engaged in angry exchange of words with those in the Opposition as the government appeared toughening its stand on the issue with a number of ministers countering the demand.
Members from Congress, SP and JD (U) trooped into the Well while those from CPI-M, CPI and Trinamool Congress were on their feet rejecting the government’s argument that the matter should be treated as closed since the minister has already expressed regret.
The House was adjourned four times in the pre-lunch session because of the pandemonium.
Soon after Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari took up obituary references after the House met for the day, Opposition members were on their feet demanding action against the minister.
Renewing his demand for passing a condemnation resolution by the House, Naresh Agrawal (SP) said, “This House does not have faith in the minister and demands that she be sacked.”
Deputy leader of Congress Anand Sharma said the remarks made by the minister is “not only a cognisable but also compoundable offence” under section 153(A) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and demanded that the Prime Minister should come to the House and inform it that the minister has been sacked.
Section 153(A) of the IPC deals with the offence of promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence and language and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.
“We are not seeking any apology. The minister should be sacked. This is an insult to the Constitution. The Prime Minister should inform the House that the minister has been sacked,” Sharma said.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury resented that Opposition members were not given a chance to seek clarifications on the minister’s statement “against the norms of the House”.
Sharad Yadav of Janata Dal (United) said if the Prime Minister, who has appointed Jyoti a minister takes action against her, it will send a signal and others will not make such remarks in future.
As Sharma kept insisting that what the minister said constituted of a criminal offence that could fetch an imprisonment of up to three years, members from the treasury benches told him to “go to the court”.
When Kurien called a member from the ruling BJP to speak on the issue, Opposition members resented it and trooped into the Well.
There were two adjournments in the Zero Hour.
Similar scenes were witnessed during the Question Hour also.
As Chairman Hamid Ansari took up the first question of the day, Congress members came into the Well shouting slogans. SP and JD-U members also joined them.
Ansari’s request to allow the Question Hour to proceed went in vain and amid din, he adjourned the House for 15 minutes.
When the House reassembled, Opposition members resumed their protest and the House was adjourned till 2pm.
Jyoti, minister of state for food processing industries, had apologised in Parliament on Tuesday, reportedly on the orders of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but opposition parties like the Left want her sacked and say she must face criminal charges for trying to incite communal hatred.
Addressing a meeting of the BJP parliamentary board, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also asked party MPs to be cautious when making comments in public.
The government, had earlier said that the matter was closed with the minister expressing regret. But, Congress members indicated that they intended to press the issue in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
Niranjan Jyoti had reportedly had said at a public meeting in Delhi on Monday, “The people of Delhi have to decide if they want a government of Ramzaadon (descendants of Ram) or haramzaadon (those who are illegitimately born).”