Congress, Trinamool stage walkout in Lok Sabha

New Delhi, Dec 10 (IANS) Congress members on Thursday staged a walkout from the Lok Sabha while demanding the suspension of BJP member Virendra Singh unless he tendered an “unconditional apology” for making certain remarks against Congress leaders.

Trinamool Congress parliamentarians too walked out of the Lok Sabha, saying the government had not risen to the occasion to resolve the impasse in the house.

Raising the issue after Question Hour, Congress leader in the house, Mallikarjun Kharge, alleged that the government seemed to be supporting the BJP member.

“Unless you suspend (the member) or there is an unconditional apology, it will affect the dignity of members. Please suspend him,” Kharge said.

“If the government supports such people, we are not going to tolerate,” Kharge added.

The Congress leader said there was intolerance during the present government’s rule and it was indulging in political vendetta against its opponents.

“We are walking out for the day,” Kharge said.

The Congress on Wednesday complained to Speaker Sumitra Mahajan about Virendra Singh’s remarks. The Speaker told the members on Thursday that she had expunged the objectionable part of Virendra Singh’s remarks.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy responded to Kharge’s remarks and said the house was discussing the drought situation for the past two days but the Congress members were continually laying siege to the speaker’s podium.

He said Congress members had also raised slogans with their back to the prime minister but did not express any regret over their behaviour.

“How long will these double standards continue,” he wondered.

Participating in a debate in the Lok Sabha on the drought situation in several parts of the country, parliamentarian Virendra Singh on Wednesday challenged the Congress leaders on their knowledge about the farmers in the country.

In his speech, he made certain remarks against Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia to which the Congress members objected.

Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy said that Virendra Singh should apologise for his remarks and added that the speaker had also suggested he do so.

Mahajan said she cannot force the member to apologise. She noted that papers were thrown at the chair on Wednesday. “Who all should I tell to apologise? Is it right to throw papers,” she said.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said there cannot be two set of rules for the members.

“Coming to the well (of the house) and raising slogans against the prime minister… It should be avoided,” he said.

Naidu said Deputy Speaker M. Thamburai’s patience was tested by the protesting members on Wednesday.

Naidu said the entire country was watching and crucial bills, like the one on Goods and Services Tax, were pending and urged members of the Trinamool Congress and the Congress to return to the house.

Referring to Wednesday’s protests, Biju Janata Dal member Bhartruhari Mahtab said that not only were papers thrown while the deputy speaker was in the chair but his desk too was thumped repeatedly.

“His patience was tested again and again,” he said, adding that visual recordings would show that it was a serious matter.

The BJD member urged the government to ensure that no bill was passed amid din in the house.

Naidu responded by saying that the government was not keen to get the bills passed amid the din.

However, he said the ongoing parliament session should not conclude without passing of the crucial bills.

Referring to Congress protests against the government over perceived “political vendetta” in the National Herald case, he said members of the opposition party should not come near the speaker’s podium to protest.