BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri, whose egregious communal comments in parliament have ignited massive outrage, received a warning today of “severe action” from Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla. His comments have been expunged from the records.
Confronting a backlash, the BJP sent a show-cause notice to its MP asking him to explain his unparliamentary language within 15 days.
The Speaker, according to officials, took serious note of the offensive words used by Ramesh Bidhuri for Muslim MP Danish Ali (BSP) during a discussion on the “success of Chandrayaan”, and warned him of “strict action” if he repeated such behaviour.
In a video from Lok Sabha, Mr Bidhuri repeatedly hurls abuses and Islamophobic slurs at Danish Ali while making a point.
“The fact that it happened in a new Parliament building under your leadership is heartbreaking for me as a minority member of this great nation and as an elected MP,” Danish Ali wrote to the Speaker, urging him to refer the incident to the privileges committee. Speaking to NDTV today, Mr Ali said he “couldn’t sleep all night” and felt his brain would explode.
As opposition leaders slammed the BJP MP and demanded action against him, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh expressed regret in the House shortly afterwards. “I express regret if the opposition is hurt by the remarks made by the member,” he said.
But the apology didn’t silence the opposition, which said Mr Bidhuri should be suspended or arrested.
“It’s an absolute shame. Rajnath Singh’s apology is not acceptable and half-hearted. This is an insult to parliament, this is a clear case of suspension and Bidhuri statement is an insult to every Indian,” said Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, demanding “strictest possible action” against the BJP leader.
The Congress pointed out that in the previous session, their Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was suspended for allegedly “insulting ministers”, yet no action was being taken for a BJP MP saying far worse.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) questioned in a post sharing the video: “BJP Delhi MP is calling another Muslim MP with these words in front of the Speaker in the Parliament Is this the culture of BJP?” The party called it the darkest day in the history of parliament.
RJD MP Manoj Jha said he was “saddened” by the communal slur used by the BJP MP in parliament.
“I was saddened, but not surprised. This is the truth of PM’s ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’. We need to think that if such words were used for an MP in Parliament, then to what kind of language against Muslims, Dalits legitimacy is been given? Till now, the PM could not say a word on Ramesh Bidhuri,” Mr Jha said.
“Filthy abusive language used by BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri against Danish Ali ( BSP) on the floor constitutes the worst kind of hate speech indicted by the Supreme Court. No MP can claim privilege for such speech. He should be arrested,” the CPI (M) demanded in a statement.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah highlighted the abusive words used by Mr Bidhuri and posted: “How easily expletives roll off the tongue of this hateful “Hon” MP! Hate against Muslims has been mainstreamed like never before. How do Muslims who identify the BJP as their party coexist alongside this level of abject hatred?”
Speaking to reporters, Mr Abdullah said: “If he had called us terrorists, we are used to it. But he said this against all Muslims. It makes us very angry. It just shows their mindset against Muslims. New parliament, but old mindset.”
Former Union Minister Harsh Vardhan, who was seen grinning as Mr Bidhuri was abusing Danish Ali, protested about being “dragged” into the controversy.
“While I was no doubt witness to the jugglery of words being thrown at each other (which in fact the entire House was), the truth of the matter is that in the chaos that existed, I could not clearly hear what was being said,” said the BJP leader.