BJP president Amit Shah, PM Narendra Modi, home minister Rajnath Singh and parliamentary affairs minister M. Venkaiah Naidu at a post-budget meeting of the NDA in New Delhi on Tuesday. Leaders met to discuss NDA’s strategy for the ongoing budget session of Parliament. Photo: Arvind Yadav/HT
BJP president Amit Shah, PM Narendra Modi, home minister Rajnath Singh and parliamentary affairs minister M. Venkaiah Naidu at a post-budget meeting of the NDA in New Delhi on Tuesday. Leaders met to discuss NDA’s strategy for the ongoing budget session of Parliament. Photo: Arvind Yadav/HT

A day after Union Budget, disruption returns to Parliament

BJP targets Jyotiraditya Scindia over comments on Vemula's death; Scindia accuses BJP of trying to muzzle voices

New Delhi: A day after the Union budget, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government and opposition parties on Tuesday once again engaged in a heated exchange of charges in Parliament, leading to frequent disruptions.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sprang a surprise by moving a notice of a privilege motion in the Lok Sabha against the Congress chief whip Jyotiraditya Scindia over comments he allegedly made on the circumstances surrounding the January suicide of Rohith Vemula, a Dalit scholar at Hyderabad Central University.

The BJP’s chief whip Arjun Ram Meghwal said he and other members of his party, including labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya, gave a notice of breach of privilege against Scindia for allegedly misleading the House on 24 February.

Meghwal said that Scindia had wrongly alleged that Dattatreya had called Rohith Vemula “anti-national, casteist and extremist".

“I am very clear that as much as the BJP tries to muzzle the voice of democracy, we will not let that happen," Scindia said.

“I have not said anything that Dattatreya has not written in that letter," he added.

Scindia said he had quoted from a letter written by Dattatreya to human resource development minister Smriti Irani following which a sequence of events ending in Vemula’s suicide unfolded at Hyderabad Central University.

Scindia accused the BJP of trying to muzzle voices even in Parliament.

K.C. Venugopal, the Congress whip in the Lok Sabha, said that the party is confident that Scindia did not say anything misleading in the House.

“Jyotiraditya Scindia did not mislead the House and we are very confident about it. We will face it (privilege motion)," Venugopal said.

Venugopal added that while Congress members did not get a chance to speak on the privilege motion notice the party had filed against Irani on Monday, the BJP members were allowed to speak on their privilege motion notice on Tuesday in the lower house.

The Congress, along with leaders of Left parties and Janata Dal (United), or JDU, had moved a notice of a privilege motion on Monday against Irani.

The opposition parties said that their move stemmed from the speech Irani had made during a discussion on the row over alleged anti-national protests at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Vemula’s suicide.

The privilege motion notice by the Congress and Left parties talked about the claims made by Irani about Vemula’s death in Parliament.

Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari will take a decision on the BJP and opposition privilege motions, respectively.

Meanwhile, in an effort to consolidate its strength, NDA leaders met on Tuesday to discuss the alliance’s Parliament strategy.

During the meeting called by the BJP, senior ministers told Members of Parliament to unite in order to effectively counter the opposition charges on the Vemula suicide and JNU controversy.

“All members of the NDA understand that the Congress and Left parties are targeting Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya, who has an exemplary record, for no reason. We condemn such actions by Congress and the party will strongly counter it," said a senior cabinet minister who was part of the meeting.

Also on Tuesday, Rajya Sabha had to be repeatedly adjourned over disruptions caused by the members of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) seeking action against former finance minister P. Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram over the Aircel-Maxis issue.

While deputy chairman P.J. Kurien called the disruptions a “murder of democracy," both the Congress and the Left parties said that the ruling BJP had “organised" the protests.

Karti Chidambaram said in Chennai that his business was “fully compliant" with the law.

Political analysts said the privilege motion notices moved by the opposition and the NDA will sharpen the confrontation in Parliament which in turn will affect the legislative agenda of the government.

“It will create further confrontation between opposition and NDA. The BJP is trying to fight an ideological battle but Parliament is not the optimum forum for it. Parliament is the place to pass legislation," said Jai Mrug, a Mumbai-based political analyst.

PTI and Pretika Khanna of Mint contributed to the story.

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