In a dramatic development in Rajya Sabha on Monday morning, AIADMK member Sasikala Pushpa stopped short of directly naming party supremo J Jayalalithaa while alleging that her leader had slapped her and was forcing her to resign from the Upper House. She claimed there was a threat to her life and dignity, and asked the government whether it would save her. Pushpa had claimed on Saturday that she had slapped DMK MP Tiruchi Siva at Delhi airport allegedly over Siva talking ill about her party and its leader.
Soon after proceedings began, Pushpa rushed into the Well of the House to make her statement. After she was sent back, she alleged, “I have a threat to my life, and I am being compelled to resign from my Constitutional post by my leader. I will not do it. I have been harassed and slapped by her yesterday.” She broke down in tears while speaking.
“If you have any complaint, you are free to approach the Honourable Chairman,” Deputy Chairman P J Kurien told her. Pushpa continued, “You have to give me dignity Sir. If an MP is slapped, where is human dignity. I need protection.”
The opposition Congress members jumped to Pushpa’s support, demanding that she be allowed to speak freely as it was a serious issue. Kurien said it was unnecessary charge against the Chair to say he had not allowed Pushpa to speak. “She came to the Well and wept, that’s why I allowed her. I understood her emotions. I did not prevent it. All I said is that the Chairman is the custodian of all members, and he will protect here also. Pressurising me like this is not good, that too under a wrong impression,” he said.
When she was allowed to speak further, Pushpa said, “I want to thank my leader, as she gave me this post. But if a leader can slap an MP….I need the government’s protection. They are compelling me to resign. Why should I resign? I want to serve my country.”
Asking her to write to the Chairman of Rajya Sabha, Kurien said, “Don’t narrate or say anything which amounts to allegations against anybody who cannot come here and protect (themselves). If you have a personal problem, that only you can say.” “There is no personal problem, but it is the privilege of an MP to speak,” Pushpa replied.
Naresh Agrawal of SP said a member had the full right to raise personal problems and seek protection. While Congress members were up on their feet demanding that Pushpa be allowed to have her full say, AIADMK members demanded expunging of extraneous remarks. “Any allegation made against anybody who cannot come and protect (himself or herself) is expunged,” Kurien said.
Pushpa, however, insisted that her life was under threat, to which Kurien reiterated that she could write to the Chairman. When Agrawal said that the member had stated that she had been slapped and her life was under threat, Kurien clarified, “She did not say any member of this House or the other House has beaten her or slapped her. She said a leader (did that). If you are mentioning about anyone who cannot come and defend, don’t say it,” Kurien told Pushpa.
“My life and dignity is under threat. Will government save me? A woman’s life is under threat from state government. Will they give a statement of saving me,” Pushpa said. Rising to speak on the matter, Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said, “This discussion is not going to add to the glory of the House.” Referring to the incident involving Pushpa and Siva, Naidu said, “One member has committed a mistake by slapping another member, and she has apologised.”
Stating that he would not join the issue, Naidu said if any member had a problem as far as security is concerned, she could write to the Chairman who would take appropriate action. Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, however, said, “Tomorrow something will happen to any member. Do you mean to say that should not raise the matter. She has not been allowed to speak what she wants. This can happen with any member, it can happen to the ruling party also.”
Kurien assured that the government would take care of Pushpa and provide protection if necessary. “I can assure on behalf of the Chairman, we will do the needful in the matter. If she needs protection, government will take care of it,” he said.