Rahul Gandhi storms the Well in Lok Sabha; 'Contrived aggression', says BJP

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 7 2014, 09:40am hrs
Rahul Gandhi today stormed the well in the Lok Sabha raking up the issue of "rising" communal violence and questioned the impartiality of Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, drawing heavy fire from the government which accused him of "contrived aggression" because of a "palace coup" in Congress.

Normally reticent and a back-bencher, the Congress Vice President entered the Well for the first time in more than 10 years to join his party members in pressing for an adjournment motion to discuss the incidents of communal violence, a demand opposed by the government.

As the House assembled for the day, Congress pressed for suspension of the Question Hour to take up the debate immediately.

Rahul joined his slogan-shouting party colleagues in the Well after some discussion with his mother and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, while opposing the motion, said there was no communal tension in the country.

Amid the din, the Question Hour went on except for a brief adjournment.

Speaking to reporters outside the House, Rahul said Opposition was not being allowed to speak in Parliament and "it is completely one-sided, partiality", in comments seen as raising questions on the Speaker.

"We are not being allowed to speak in Parliament. We are asking for discussion. There is a mentality in the government that discussion is not acceptable. Everybody feels it, their party feels it, we feel it, everybody feels it," Gandhi said. "There is a mood in Parliament that only one man's voice counts for anything in this country.... The Speaker, I mean.... It is completely one-sided, partiality. That's what we are raising," he said.

The Speaker rejected Rahul's allegation of bias and said equal opportunity is given to all members and parties.

However, she maintained that if somebody chose to make allegations, she cannot help it.

Hitting out at Rahul, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said his "contrived aggression" was a compulsion as the party leadership was facing a "palace coup" within, an apparent reference to demands from some Congressmen for Priyanka Gandhi to play an active role in the party.

Contending that Rahul was making an issue out of a non-issue, Jaitley said, "The reason is very clear. Today a section of the leadership of the Congress party, because of its inability to lead, has been under pressure. They have been facing a palace coup. It's a coup within their own party."

He took a dig at Rahul for alleging that opposition members are not allowed to speak in the House, saying his charge was surprising because "some leaders don't speak at all in the House and then say we are not allowed to speak".

He said the Congress has been participating in every discussions.

"At times they have disturbed the House and not allowed to go on. There is not a single instance where they are not being allowed to raise issues".

Day after day, Jaitley said, established leaders of the party were speaking in the House. "It's an internal compulsion within the party. For that, you need not drag the House or Presiding officer into the debate," he said.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu said any allegation directed at the Speaker as "unfair pressure tactic" as he took exception to Rahul's comments.

"It is not fair to make allegations against the Speaker, I feel these are all pressure tactics. Please don't adopt pressure tactics against the Speaker. Speaker is the presiding officer of the House," Naidu said, adding the attitude of the Congress would "boomerang" on the party.

The Speaker rejected Rahul's charge of bias.

"If somebody has to level allegation, then I cannot do anything. I am trying to do my work with integrity. You tell me what can I do about it," she said.

She told journalists to find out themselves by checking records about how she had allowed members and parties to ask questions.