Newly-elected Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has said that he will not allow a repeat of the shouting of religious slogans in the House, as seen during the swearing-in of some Opposition MPs earlier this week, Hindustan Times reported on Thursday.
“I don’t think Parliament is the place for sloganeering, for showing placards, or for coming to the well,” he told the daily. “There is a road for that where they can go and demonstrate. Whatever people want to say here, whatever allegations they have, however they want to attack the government they can, but they can’t come to the gallery and do all this.”
When asked if he could assure that heckling is not repeated, the Speaker said he could not. “I don’t know if it will happen again but we will try to run Parliament by the rules,’’ he said. “Jai Shri Ram slogans, Jai Bharat, Vande Mataram, I said this was an old issue,” Birla said. “During a debate, it is different. Every time, there are different circumstances. What are the circumstances is decided by the person sitting in the speaker’s chair.”
United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen leader Asaduddin Owaisi, several Trinamool Congress MPs and some Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam members from Tamil Nadu were heckled by BJP members when they were being sworn in. BJP MPs had chanted “Jai Shri Ram”, “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and “Vande Mataram” as Owaisi walked down the well of the House to take the oath.
Birla, who is a two-term MP from Kota, Rajasthan, was elected unanimously to the Speaker’s post as the Opposition did not field a nominee. “All parties have reposed faith in me, so it will be my duty to keep their faith,” Birla said. “Everyone has the right to express themselves, the government has to be more responsible since they have such a large majority. They should answer all questions. I have seen government always accepts demands of a debate when asked for it.”
Birla said he wanted all MPs to “speak our mind but be bound by rules”.