Opposition leaders on Monday chanted slogans and walked out of the Lok Sabha after Bharatiya Janata Party MP Parvesh Verma rose to speak, PTI reported. Last week, the Election Commission banned Verma from campaigning for four days for making objectionable remarks at a campaign rally in Delhi.
“Lakhs of people gather there [Shaheen Bagh],” Verma had said at an election rally in Delhi. “The people of Delhi will have to carefully and thoughtfully make a decision. These people will enter your homes, they will pick up your sisters and daughters and rape and kill them.” Hundreds of women, along with children, have been peacefully protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens at Shaheen Bagh since the middle of December.
After the Opposition walkout, Speaker Om Birla said that Verma had every right to speak in the Lok Sabha and that members should not set a “bad precedent”. Birla also claimed that the remarks he had made outside Parliament cannot be brought up inside it.
After the Lok Sabha reconvened around 1.30 pm, Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi said that ministers were making inflammatory remarks that were provoking attacks against anti-CAA protestors. He added that the ministers were controlled by their “political masters”, highlighting that Verma who was banned from campaigning by the Election Commission was the BJP’s main speaker, reported The Hindu.
Earlier in the day, Opposition MPs shouted “goli marna band karo [stop shooting]” slogans after Anurag Thakur, who is the minister of state in the Ministry of Finance, spoke in Lok Sabha, ANI reported.
At an election rally on January 27, Thakur was heard shouting “desh ke gaddaron ko [the traitors of the country]” while the crowd responded with “goli maaro saalon ko [shoot the traitors]”. The slogan was shouted in a reference to anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protestors. Thakur was censured by the Election Commission.
Since then, three shooting incidents – one at Shaheen Bagh and two in Jamia Millia Islamia University – have taken place in four days in the national Capital.
Congress members asked him “where is your bullet” as Thakur was responding to questions. Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the government cannot silence people’s “boli” (voice) with “goli”.
Opposition members also shouted slogans against the Citizenship Amendment Act. “Say no to CAA”, “Save our democracy” and “Save our Constitution” were among them.
The Lok Sabha speaker tried to assure the MPs that they will be given a chance to speak during the motion of thanks to President Ram Nath Kovind’s address. However, members continued to shout slogans. “You have been sent to the Parliament to ask questions and not raise slogans,” Birla told the Opposition members.
When Chowdhury was allowed to speak, he alleged that some protestors were killed “mercilessly”. “People are protesting to protect the Constitution and are carrying national flags,” he added. He said the Bharatiya Janata Party members are “fake Hindus” and said they would have behaved differently if they were “genuine Hindus”.
Later in the afternoon, Minister of State for Home G Kishen Reddy claimed the Centre will take strong action against those responsible for the shootings at Jamia Millia Islamia, The Indian Express reported. “These things should not happen. Those who carry arms and do such things should be punished, the government will take strict action,” he said.
Proceedings in the Lower House were adjourned for the day at 6 pm.
Meanwhile, the Trinamool Congress moved six amendments to the president’s address in Rajya Sabha at the beginning of the session. They raised questions over Kovind’s “silence” on matters relating to protests against the amended citizenship law, economic slowdown and the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution.
Proceedings in the Rajya Sabha were reconvened around 3 pm but the House was immediately adjourned for the day, as Opposition MPs shouted slogans against the government over the Citizenship Amendment Act and NRC, PTI reported. The Trinamool Congress and the Communist Party of India, in particular, did not allow BJP MP Bhupender Yadav to move the Motion of Thanks to the president’s address.
Yadav said Deputy Chairperson Harivansh Narayan Singh should ask the Leader of the Opposition whether they want to run the House. Singh tried to pacify Opposition members, but to no avail. Singh then adjourned the House for the day.
The president had on Friday hailed the Citizenship Amendment Act as a historic move, but did not mention the National Register of Citizens – a proposed exercise to identify undocumented immigrants – in his address to the joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament on the first day of the Budget Session.
TMC’s amendments said that at the end of his speech a “regret that the address fails to acknowledge the hardships and anxieties of people caused due to the passing of the CAA, and fails to allay the people’s fear of a nationwide NRC and NPR” be added.
Another sought the expression of regret that the speech did not take into account the “hardships of peaceful protesters, including students who were illegally detained, denied medical care, lathicharged, fired at and subjected to other forms of torture”.
Protests against both the amended citizenship law and the citizens’ register have swept India since mid-December. The Citizenship Amendment Act provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The government’s critics fear that the amended law, clubbed with NRC, will be misused to target Muslims since the Citizenship Act now has religion as a criterion. Work has also begun on the National Population Register, which is the first step towards creating a citizens’ register.