New Delhi: Ruling and opposition members in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday sparred over certain remarks made by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge in Rajasthan's Alwar, with treasury bench members seeking an apology from him for the "foul" comments.
However, Kharge refused to do so while maintaining that the BJP had no role in the country's freedom struggle. He insisted that the remarks were made outside Parliament and should not be discussed in the House.
At a rally in Rajasthan on Monday, Kharge claimed that while the Congress stood for the country and helped attain Independence after its leaders gave supreme sacrifices, "not even a dog of the BJP was lost" for the country.
He had also alleged that the BJP government "talks like a lion but acts like a mouse" as it is not taking on China for indulging in incursions along the border and is running away from a debate on the issue in Parliament.
Soon after papers were laid in the Upper House and the chairman announced that YSRCP leader V Vijay Sai Reddy and nominated member P T Usha have been nominated on the panel of vice chairman of the house, treasury bench members were up on their feet demanding an apology from the Congress leader.
Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar urged protesting treasury bench members to resume their seats and even asked Leader of House (LoH) Piyush Goyal to persuade the members to maintain decorum in the House.
As protests continued, the Chairman said he does not "appreciate such unruly scenes and chaotic behaviour" in the House.
"This House, either side, is a platform of expression. This House has to reflect and take note of everything that happens outside. ...everything spoken here carries great weight. Anyone who wants to take anything should take recourse to rules," he said and asked the LoH to present the point the Treasury members want to make in the House.
Goyal said, "Yesterday, Opposition leader Mallikarjun Kharge used foul language in his speech at Alwar. He made baseless remarks and tried to keep untruths before the nation. I strongly condemn it and demand an apology from him."
Kharge should apologise to the BJP and the House which has the maximum number of members from the saffron party, he said.
"The way he has used foul language reflected his thinking and jealousy. ....He (Kharge) may be jealous that his party is not being accepted by people. Use of such foul language is an insult to this House and all citizens," Goyal said.
He further said that after the country's Independence Mahatma Gandhi had said that the Congress should be disbanded, and Kharge's behaviour shows what the Father of the Nation had said was true.
Kharge does not even know how to give a speech. Till he apologises, he has no right to stay in the House, he added.
As Treasury members continued to demand an apology, the chairman asked the LoH to control members and maintain decorum.
Kharge said there was no need to discuss the issue as the remarks were made in Alwar during the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
"What I had said politically was outside the House and not in the House. There is no need to discuss here," he said
Kharge's statement evoked unruly scenes in the House and the Chairman asked the members not to set a bad example.
"We are setting a very bad example. ..This kind of conduct gives a bad name...Even the observations of the chair that are wholesome are indigestible. What a painful scenario we are having. Trust me, 135 crore people are laughing at us. They are concerned and think that we cannot listen to each other," the chair said.
You are asking an apology from those who fought for the country's Independence. They accused the Congress of holding 'Bharat Todo Yatra', to which I responded by saying that Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi gave their lives for the country. Who has given life from your side (saffron party)?
Mallikarjun Kharge, AICC President
There may be a difference of opinion among members but one should not indulge in "tit for tat" like children, he said and asked Kharge to continue his statement.
Kharge said, "If I repeat what I said outside it would be difficult for them. You are asking for an apology from those who fought for the country's Independence. They accused the Congress of holding 'Bharat Todo Yatra', to which I responded by saying that Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi gave their lives to the country. Who has given life from your side (saffron party)?"
Goyal said the Congress leader has no right to make such a statement as he does not remember history. He does not recall what happened in Jammu and Kashmir, and how China took over 38,000 km of land from India during their regime.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, Kharge on Monday said when Rahul Gandhi talked about the border dispute with China at a presser recently, BJP leaders raised the matter alleging that he was trying to break the country and that he has no respect for Indian soldiers.
The Modi government claims that they are very strong, it pats itself on the back claiming no one can look into its eyes, but disputes and clashes are rising at the border, Kharge had said.