Ruckus in LS over Vardhan’s attack on Rahul for ‘danda’ remark against PM


New Delhi: A few members of the BJP and the Congress almost came to blows in the Lok Sabha on Friday when Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan roundly condemned Rahul Gandhi’s ‘danda’ remark at Prime Minister Modi and called it “outlandish”, sparking demands for apology from each side to the other

The ruckus broke out during the fag end of the Question Hour after Vardhan said he would like to make a statement on Gandhi’s recent comment on the prime minister before giving an answer to a starred question by the Congress leader related to establishment of medical colleges

During a poll campaign rally in Delhi on Wednesday, Gandhi warned Modi that in the next six months, the youth will hit him with sticks if he doesn’t address the issue of unemployment in the country

“Sir, please excuse me. Before I begin answering this question of dear Shri Rahul Gandhi ji. I want to condemn in no uncertain words the outlandish language that he has used against the prime minister of the country,” he said reading out from a prepared note, even as Speaker Om Birla asked the minister to stick to his answer

As Vardhan continued reading out the statement, Congress MPs came to the Well loudly protesting against the minister’s move

One of the Congress members from Tamil Nadu, Manickam Tagore, came to the treasury benches and attempted to aggressively reach Vardhan, who was sitting in the second row

Immediately, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, a BJP member from Uttar Pradesh, held Tagore by his arm to prevent him from reaching the union minister. Singh is incidentally the President of the Wrestling Federation of India

Congress MP from Kerala Hibi Eden also tried to intervene

Several MPs from both sides and union ministers, including Smriti Irani, prevented them from coming to blows

“Guys, what are you doing. What is going on,” Irani was heard saying

Unnerved by the commotion, Vardhan continued reading his statement

“In a recent speech, he (Gandhi) used words like 6 mahina baad, iss desh ka yuva, Narendra Modi ko dande maar maar ke desh se bahar karenge. (After six months, youth of the country would beat Modi with sticks and throw him out),” Vardhan said

The minister said Rahul’s father Rajiv Gandhi was a prime minister and even he was not targeted like this

“I don’t think in the worst of cases our party leaders have made such outlandish personal remarks against him threatening to beat him with dandas (sticks) and throwing him out of the country.”

“The entire House present here must in unequivocal terms condemn his remarks against our prime minister. We demand…,” he said

The speaker immediately adjourned the House till 1 pm

Gandhi later alleged that the ruckus in the Lok Sabha was “orchestrated” to prevent him from questioning the government

As soon as the House reassembled at 1 pm, Kirit Solanki, who was in the Chair, adjourned proceedings till 2 pm

When the House resumed, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi condemned Tagore’s attempt to attack Vardhan

“It is highly uncalled for. If anything is wrongly spoken then it is up to the Speaker to take a call but trying to attack the minister is condemnable,” Joshi said

As Congress members too were on there feet, A Raja, who was in the Chair, adjourned the proceedings for the day

Vardhan later said Gandhi should apologise to the country for his “derogatory” remarks against the prime minister

“During the Question Hour (in Parliament), before answering Rahul ji’s question, it was necessary for me to urge him to apologise for his remarks against the prime minister,” Vardhan said in a tweet in Hindi

Vardhan later alleged that Congress MPs came to his seat in the Lok Sabha, tried to attack him and snatch papers

Minister Joshi alleged that at the instance of Rahul Gandhi, Tagore attempted to manhandle Vardhan. He demanded that Tagore apologise failing which he should be suspended from the House

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, too demanded that Vardhan apologise for his “unparliamentary behaviour”

Gandhi said that “we are being stifled and we are not being allowed to speak in Parliament”. “They have suppressed our voices.”

“The orchestrated ruckus in Parliament today was designed to prevent me from questioning the government. The youth of India can clearly see that the PM has no clue about how to tackle the unemployment crisis,” he told reporters

“To protect him, the BJP will keep disrupting Parliament, preventing debate,” the Congress leader said on Twitter

Gandhi said he was seeking to raise an issue of the people of his Lok Sabha constituency Wayanad in Kerala not getting access to medical facilities in the absence of a medical college

“But I was prevented from doing so,” he said

“The BJP obviously does not like me to speak in the House. In a completely unparliamentary manner, the Union health minister raised something that I said outside, which he has no business of doing during the Question Hour. So, we were raising it with the Speaker,” the former Congress chief said

Gandhi denied that Tagore attacked anyone and alleged he was instead attacked

Speaker Birla held separate meetings with Congress leaders and Union minister Pralhad Joshi

Gandhi and Chowdhury handed over a complaint against Vardhan for action against him

The Congress, however, said any of their MPs would be ready to express regret if found violating Parliamentary norms in the Lok Sabha during the acrimony

“I have proposed that the concerned minister should apologise for his unparliamentary behaviour and have said that our member in the well went there due to the emotional outburst triggered after the minister’s remarks. If found to be wrong, we will also express regret,” Chowdhury told reporters.