"Won’t Be Tolerated," Speaker Warns Congress After Parliament Scuffle

New Delhi: 

Speaker Om Birla has condemned the scuffle that broke out in the Lok Sabha today, when marshals tried to forcibly remove two Congress members who were protesting against the recent political developments in Maharashtra. “I am hurt by whatever happened in parliament. It is unacceptable and won’t be tolerated,” Mr Birla said, warning of strong action against any lawmaker who indulges in such behaviour in the future.

The incident occurred when Mr Birla ordered the removal of Congress members Hibi Eden and TN Prathapan for allegedly raising slogans against the installation of a BJP government in Maharashtra while holding up a banner that read “Stop Murder of Democracy” in the house. However, a scuffle broke out while the marshals were trying to escort them out of the Lok Sabha, forcing the Speaker to suspend the two for the day and adjourn proceedings until order could be established again.

“The House runs with dignity. Today’s incident has lowered the dignity of the House. If such incidents are repeated in future, members will be suspended for the whole session,” news agency IANS quoted the Speaker as saying to Congress members who met him later.

Hibi Eden, however, insisted that they were protesting on a “genuine” issue when the Speaker set the marshals on them. “They tried to forcibly push us out and take our banner away, which our colleagues tried to prevent,” he said, adding that two women members – Jothimani and Ramya Haridas – were “manhandled” in the commotion.

Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prahlad Joshi countered the allegations in their meeting with the Speaker, instead demanding “strict action” against Hibi Eden and TN Prathapan. “The house cannot be a place of unruly behaviour. All parties should maintain the sanctity and great traditions of Lok Sabha,” said Mr Prasad.

This is the first time a session of the 17th Lok Sabha has been adjourned due to ruckus in the House.

Similar protests took place in the Rajya Sabha, with the Congress and other opposition parties raising anti-BJP slogans. However, Chairman Venkaiah Naidu refused to set aside scheduled business to discuss the matter, saying that any such debate could happen only after a motion is brought to that effect.

Chaos had broken out in Maharashtra on Saturday morning, when NCP leader Ajit Pawar broke ranks with his uncle — party chief Sharad Pawar — and sided with the BJP in an audacious bid to help it form the government. The move came at a time when the Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP seemed inches away from forming an alliance government in the state.

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