Speaker names Congress’s Adhir for disregarding chair

New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) Battle lines were drawn in the Lok Sabha on Monday after Speaker Sumitra Mahajan “named” Congress member Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury for disregarding and insulting the chair by banging a placard on her table during protests on the Lalit Modi and the Vyapam issues.

The speaker named Chowdhury, Congress MP from Baharampur, under rule 374 (1) which authorises her to suspend a Lok Sabha member for at least a day.

Chowdhury was quick to express regret, but his apology was not accepted by the speaker.

“The speaker is for parliament what Pope is for the Vatican; therefore, I regret if I have in any way insulted the chair, but it is also true that I was not allowed to speak on certain issues and bills,” he said adding that the prevailing situation was one of agitation.

Mahajan refused to accept his apology saying it did not seem to come from the heart and asked him to leave the house at least for the day.

“Despite my request again and again that placards should not be shown, placards were being put in front of members who wanted to speak. The behaviour of Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury is totally unacceptable. This shows disrespect to the chair. I name him for having disregard for the chair,” she said in her ruling.

The rule also allows a motion to be moved for the suspension of the said member for the rest of the session.

BJP MP Arjun Ram Meghwal put forth the motion immediately after the speaker named Chowdhury.

However, senior members from other parties like Trinamool Congress’s Saugata Roy and M. Saleem of the CPI-M objected saying the ruling party’s action was vindictive.

“Why are you naming a single member. Suspension from the session will be very vindictive,” Saugata Roy said.

Saleem said every opposition party tried different methods of agitation and the protests had been going on for some time.

To this, Mahajan replied that Chowdhury’s action was “the height”. However, she asked Meghwal to withdraw the motion for suspension.

During heated protests by the opposition, led by the Congress, Chowdhury was seen banging a placard on the speaker’s table.

He was stopped first by Lok Sabha secretary general Anup Mishra and later Congress member Jyotiraditya Scindia, who then took him away.

The speaker lamented that the Congress leaders were doing nothing to control the situation.

During the commotion, Congress president Sonia Gandhi was seen sitting calmly. She would also occasionally confer with younger members of her party like Sushmita Deb and Jyotiraditya Scindia.

Congress leader of the house, Mallikarujun Kharge, said Chowdhury should be allowed to speak. “It is not our intention to insult anyone,” he said.

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