New Delhi: The opposition on Wednesday virtually paralysed the proceedings in the Lok Sabha demanding action against union minister Anant Kumar Hegde for his controversial comments on secularism and the constitution.
Raising the issue, leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge quoting Hegde said the minister compared those supporting secularism to “children of unknown parentage", besides denigrating Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar, the architect of the constitution.
“The minister called for changing the constitution according to today’s need...He said those who support secularism are like people without parentage. He said they do not know their bloodline. This is unacceptable," Kharge said, demanding action against the minister. Parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar claimed Kharge was trying to distort what Hegde had said.
“B.R. Ambedkar is the father of the constitution and we respect him. We request the opposition to not disrupt the proceedings," he said, accusing the Congress of indulging in “pseudo-secularism".
He made the statement amid shouting of slogans against Hegde by the opposition. As opposition members marched into the well of the House and shouted slogans, the speaker adjourned the House till 2.45pm. This was the third time the Lok Sabha was adjourned on Wednesday.
Earlier, the House was first adjourned till noon and then till 2pm due to unabated opposition protest over the same issue. The TRS members, who were demanding a separate high court for Telangana, were also in the well, along with members of the Congress. Some other members raised concerns over the treatment meted out to the family members of Kulbhushan Jadhav by Pakistan.
Despite repeated requests from speaker Sumitra Mahajan, about 20 members continued to protest in the well of the House. As the protests continued unabated, Mahajan asked the members to return to their seats. “If you don’t want the government to say something, then let it go," she said.
Amid the din, papers were laid and a few members spoke during zero hour but as the unruly scenes continued, Mahajan adjourned the House till 2pm after about 20 minutes of proceedings. Before this, the House was adjourned for about 50 minutes soon after the question hour had begun at 11am.
Congress members raised slogans demanding removal of Hegde from the council of ministers, while members of the TRS also joined them with placards demanding a separate high court for Telengana. Some Shiv Sena members raised slogans against Pakistan, apparently over the treatment of Jadhav’s family members.
Some BJP members also joined them in raising slogans like ‘Pakistan murdabad’ (down with Pakistan).
During question hour, leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Kharge had then too briefly raised the issue of remarks by Hegde, following which his party members rushed into the well raising slogans such as ‘Ambedkar ka apman nahin chalega’ (We will not tolerate the insult of B.R. Ambedkar—a key framer of the constitution).
At a function in Karnataka on Sunday, Hegde, the minister of state for skill development, had reportedly said people should identify themselves by their religions and “those who, without knowing about their parental blood, call themselves secular, they don’t have their own identity...They don’t know about their parentage." He had also said “we are here to change the constitution and we’ll change it."