The Opposition attacked the government in Lok Sabha Wednesday on the Bhima-Koregaon violence in Pune, with the Congress accusing the BJP and the RSS of fuelling the violence against Dalits. Congress floor leader Mallikarjun Kharge demanded that the PM make a statement and accused him of keeping mum on Dalit issues. The Congress also asked for a commission of enquiry to be set up under a Supreme Court judge.
“What happened in Koregaon was an attempt to divide the society, to create a rift between Marathas and Mahars, by Hindutva fundamentalists and the RSS. RSS people are behind this incident,” Kharge said.
“It is my demand that the Prime Minister should come in the House and make a statement because he is always keeping quiet when such incidents happen… He does not take any action… He keeps mum,” Kharge said.
The remark led to immediate protests from the treasury bench MPs, who demanded parts of his statement to be taken off the record. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan warned Kharge not to make allegations and asked that some of his remarks not be taken on record.
With Rahul Gandhi present, Congress members were vociferous in their protest. As they stormed the well, with support from NCP, Left parties and RJD on the benches, the House was adjourned for 10 minutes.
To Sumitra Mahajan’s constant assertion that the state government had already instituted an inquiry, Kharge said, “ I want that a Supreme Court judge should be appointed… He should inquire this and not the state government. The state government has taken a decision. That is a different thing.”
Objecting to Kharge’s statements inside the House, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar accused the Congress of trying to divide the country like the British did. “Kharge is trying to stoke the fire. Congress is desperate. Just as British had a policy of divide and rule, Congress is planning divide and rule. Lok Sabha should be giving a message of peace. But Kharge and Rahul Gandhi are adding fuel to the fire,” Ananth Kumar said.
A short while after the exchange, Congress members walked out demanding an apology from the prime minister.
Earlier, the Speaker had turned down an adjournment motion moved by Kharge for discussion on the Koregaon incident but allowed Opposition members to speak on the issue during zero hour. However, before members could begin speaking, Mahajan made a request that the members make responsible statements and not indulge in a blame game. “There was a time when the British divided the nation and ruled it… We are all representatives of the people. Whatever issue we raise, we must believe that we have to be together to protect the nation. Blame game will not solve the problem,” she said.
Outside Parliament, talking to media, Kharge said, “We demand that the prime minister, who shows sympathy for Dalits during polls, should clarify his position inside Parliament on violence against Dalits.”
Rajya Sabha saw two adjournments in the morning as several members including those of the Congress and the BSP sought to raise the violence in Maharashtra. As soon as zero hour began and chairman M Venkaiah Naidu asked Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad to speak, Satish Chandra Mishra of BSP rose to his feet and raised the Maharashtra violence issue, alleging that the RSS and the BJP were responsible for the violence against Dalits. As many members tried to speak simultaneously, Naidu abruptly adjourned the House for the first time. When it reassembled at noon, Congress and BSP members were on their feet again and Naidu adjourned the House again.