New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s “rape in India” barb at the Modi government at an election rally in Jharkhand triggered furious protests in Lok Sabha today by BJP members who sought an apology from him, with Union Minister Rajnath Singh stating that leaders like him have no “moral right” to be in Parliament.
The BJP protest, led by the party’s woman MP who assembled together just near the Well to attack Rahul, consumed the scheduled business of Lok Sabha and forced Speaker Om Birla to adjourn the proceedings twice.
Later the Speaker adjourned the House sine die, and the protests continued as he read out the list of business taken up by the House during the Winter session. Today was the last day of the Winter Session.
Amid the din in the House, DMK’s Kanimozhi defended Rahul as Congress members also came out of their seats in protest and asked the Speaker to take up the Question Hour.
She said Rahul did not make the remarks in the House and that he was referring to cases of sexual assaults and violence against women in the country.
Kanimozhi’s reaction came after Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi asked her and NCP leader Supriya Sule to express their opinion about Rahul’s remarks. Joshi termed her response “unfortunate”.
Speaking at a public meeting in Jharkhand, where Assembly elections are underway, Rahul had said on Thursday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised ‘Make in India’ but “wherever you see now you find ‘rape in India'” in different parts of the country.
The saffron party seized on his “rape in India” barb to corner his party. The protests began as soon as the House assembled. After the House paid tributes to those who had lost their lives in the 2001 Parliament attack on this day, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal said several BJP members had given notices of adjournment against Rahul’s remarks and they should be allowed to speak.
Tearing into the Congress leader, Union Minister Smriti Irani said he had “insulted” the women and men of India and claimed his remarks amounted to inviting people to rape women. Seeking his apology, Irani said he should be punished.
Joining the issue, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh attacked Rahul and said such MPs don’t have moral right to be a member of the House.
Rahul has hurt not only the House but the entire country, he said. Rajnath said the Modi government had started ”Make in India” programme to transform India from an importing nation into an exporting one.
It is aimed at providing employment to youth in the country but people are now rhyming it with remarks which cannot be uttered, Rajnath said.
“Such members have no moral right to be a member of Lok Sabha,” the senior BJP leader said, demanding apology from Rahul. The Congress leader should apologise to the entire nation, he said.
He recalled that BJP members Ananth Hegde and Sadhavi Nirajan Jyoti had expressed regret in the House for remarks made outside. Both were then Ministers. Jyoti is a Minister in the present dispensation as well.
BJP MP Locket Chatterjee said Gandhi had insulted not only women of the country but everyone. All men are not rapists, she said.
Irani also said Rahul referred to rape cases to make mockery of his political rivals which is condemnable. She said Kanimozhi’s defence of Rahul was “disgusting to to say the least”.
Earlier in the morning, as the ruckus continued for around half-an-hour, the speaker adjourned the proceedings till noon. Question Hour could not be taken up.
More than 30 members from the BJP, including Bhopal MP Pragya Thakur, were seen standing in the aisle and shouting slogans. Congress members, too, were in the aisle.