Sparks flew in Rajya Sabha during the discussion on lynching, with BJP members taking offence at remarks by Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agrawal about Hindu gods and certain writings he claimed to have seen on walls in UP during the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. It took two adjournments and an apology by Agrawal to restore normalcy.
Bhupendra Yadav (BJP) was the first to protest the remarks, which were later expunged. Yadav called the remarks a kind of “lynching” as Agrawal had hurt the sentiments of people. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said Agrawal has “no business” making such comments and he cannot hold the House and the country “to ransom”. He demanded that Agrawal apologise for “hurting the sentiments of the Hindu community which is a majority community”.
Leader of the House Arun Jaitley said had Agrawal made the remark outside, he would have been liable to prosecution. Deputy chairman P J Kurien later examined the records and said the statement by Agrawal is “per se derogatory” and “hurts the sentiments of a particular community”. The chair expunged the remarks.
Agrawal, who had initially said he was withdrawing his remarks, had to eventually express “regret”. Earlier, SP leader Ramgopal Yadav had said Agrawal would not apologise. He cited a remark by then HRD minister Smriti Irani last year, and said “even she had not apologised” and there “cannot be two benchmarks”.
Earlier, raising the short-duration discussion, Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad demanded a reply from any one among Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Jaitley or Home Minister Rajnath Singh. This was after it was stated that MoS (Home) Hansraj Ahir would reply. As Azad talked about the hand of the “Parivar” in lynching incidents and alleged “political harnessing”, Ananth Kumar accused the Opposition of defaming the government and seeking to divert focus from development. He urged the Opposition not to strengthen the hands of “criminal elements” involved in such incidents by providing them a “cloak of communalism”.
Sitaram Yechury (CPM) cited examples of the regimes of Hitler and Mussolini and said lynchings are part of “larger ideological construct”. He demanded that groups of cow vigilantes be banned by a central order. Derek O’Brien (TMC) said cow vigilante is a pretty term and the the real term is ‘cow terrorism’, ‘cow aatank’. He said while the PM has condemned violence in name of gau Raksha, he should “name the groups. Generic comments won’t work”. Nominated MP Swapan Dasgupta said while there is no space for lynching, “beef is a very sensitive subject in India” and the question is “how do we maintain this sensitivity and yet prevent this kind of vigilantism”.