Persisting with demands for an apology by Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his remarks about former PM Manmohan Singh, the Congress staged a noisy protest Thursday, followed by yet another walkout in Lok Sabha. This was the fourth day the Congress has protested since the winter session began.
While Congress members, parked in the well, shouted slogans to press for an opportunity for their floor leader Mallikarjun Kharge to speak, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan ruled it out. She asserted that the matter emanated from what had been said at a public meeting. “This is an elected House,” she said. “Why are you undertaking this trouble [of standing in the well and protesting]?”
Mahajan then went ahead with business as scheduled, conducting question hour notwithstanding Congress sloganeering. Members of other Opposition parties, such as the Trinamool Congress and the NCP, took part in the proceedings. The protest continued into zero hour for a while and, seeing no change in the Speaker’s stand, Congress members, led by their parliamentary party chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Kharge, staged a walkout.
With Sonia overseeing them, Congress MPs raised full-throated slogans demanding that Modi apologise (maafi mango) for his remarks about Manmohan Singh.
At one stage, Congress chief whip Jyotiraditya Scindia, even though not allowed by the Speaker, lashed out at the Prime Minister and protested against the denial of an opportunity to Kharge to speak. Sonia thumped her desk in applaud Scindia. Kharge was seen passing throat-soothing herbal pills from a small box to Scindia. Even Sonia helped herself to a pill.
Congress members returned to the House after lunch and took part in the debate on Supplementary Demand for Grants.