The day the Rajya Sabha emerged out of a deadlock caused by ministers’ remarks about Kumari Selja’s allegation of discrimination at a temple, the Congress headed for another confrontation with the government. It has decided to boycott Union minister V K Singh in Parliament unless he apologises for having made a “dog” analogy in October while speaking about the killing of two Dalit children in Haryana.
In fact, when V K Singh entered the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, BSP and Congress had opposed his presence and demanded his dismissal from the government. They had trooped into the well to demand his exit. Deputy chairman P J Kurien asserted the minister has every right to be in the House, while Parliamentary Affairs rushed to the Rajya Sabha to defend his presence.
The Congress had protested in similar fashion in the Lok Sabha Wednesday and walked out after attempting to disrupt proceedings. On Thursday, a meeting chaired by Rahul Gandhi decided the party should boycott Singh, especially in the Lok Sabha where its numbers are not enough to force an adjournment, sources said. They said their MPs will walk out whenever Singh rises to answer a question or reply to any discussions. Singh is minister of state for external affairs.
This was the first meeting of parliamentary party leaders Rahul has chaired since Sonia Gandhi went to the US for a checkup. Rahul had attacked Singh during the discussion on intolerance Tuesday, and Singh hit back Wednesday with a series of tweets.
Sources said the party could give a notice in the Rajya Sabha raising Singh’s remark to force the government to come out with a statement. “If the government continues to protect him and he doesn’t apologise, we will boycott him,” a senior leader said.
In the Rajya Sabha, Singh had walked in during a discussion on a bill to amend the Prevention of Corruption Act. Satish Chandra Mishra (BSP) demanded he be asked to leave as he has “insulted the Constitution” by “insulting Dalits”. Mishra said Singh should take pension and sit on “protest”, referring to the One Rank One Pension demand.
Singh smiled and moved one row ahead, prompting Mishra to say, “You have used such language against Dalits. You have used such language, compared a human being, a Dalit, to some animal. And yet you are smiling, you are happy. You should be ashamed.”
As Congress MPs joined the protest, Kurien said, “As a minister, he has every right to be in the house.” Naidu called the allegations a “canard” and accused the BSP of indulging in caste politics.
Later, Congress deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had assured action against colleagues whose conduct is against established constitutional principles. In view of Singh’s remarks, Sharma said, Modi should have removed him.