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Congress-Smriti Irani encounters rock Lok Sabha

Union minister Smriti Irani was speaking in the Lok Sabha on the Unnao rape issue when she was interrupted by two Congress MPs who apparently got up from their seats and rushed towards the treasury benches. Meenakshi Lekhi, who was in the Chair, told Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury to ask his party MPs to come to the House and seek an apology.

ET Bureau|
Updated: Dec 06, 2019, 11.42 PM IST
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Smriti Irani slams opposition for politicising rape
Smriti Irani slams opposition for politicising rape
NEW DELHI: The Lok Sabha on Friday witnessed two encounters between Union minister Smriti Irani and Congress MPs which resulted in verbal exchanges, allegations of ‘threatening behavior,’ demands for apology and action against some members and adjournment of the House.

By evening, the ruling side is learnt to have conveyed to the Speaker that two Congress MPs will have to be suspended. When informed about it, Congress conveyed to the Speaker any such action could lead to repercussions in the House of Monday, sources said.

The action began during Zero Hour when a discussion began on the Unnao rape and burning of victim by the accused. Condemning the incident and speaking on the plight of women, Congress floor leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdury said: “On the one hand a temple of maryadapurush is being built (in Ayodhya) but we are also witnessing Sita being set on fire. While there are claims of making Uttar Pradesh ‘uttam pradesh’, in reality, UP has become ‘adharm pradesh’ (land of lawlessness).”

Irani intervened to protest against the remark and accused the Congress leader of ‘communalising’ the issue. “Yes, setting a woman afire is condemnable. The rape and killing of a woman is inhuman, but do not politicise the issue. No one has ever communalised the issue in this House,” she said and asked why opposition MPs were not referring to a ‘similar case’ in Malda.

This was followed by Congress MPs TN Prathapan and Dean Kuriakose reaching the aisle near the Well and shouting out something. They were pulled back by some Congress and NCP MPs. When the House reassembled after lunch, many BJP MPs and parliamentary affairs minister sought apology from the two Congress MPs for ‘threatening’ Irani.

Since the two were not present in the House, the ruling side said they should be made to apologise on Monday, failing which action should be taken against them. “This is the most condemnable behaviour. They made threatening postures when she was speaking. She is a lady member of the House. It is most uncalled for and they should apologise,” said parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi. Later the House adjourned for the day.

On being told by Chair about the ruling side pushing for suspension of the two MPs, a Congress MP said the opposition would ‘rather face suspension of all MPs’ and argued after the Adhir-Irani exchange in the morning, the Chair had moved on to the next item by asking BJP MP Nishikant Dubey to raise another issue. “It has been recorded by Lok Sabha TV. BJP has raked up this issue, post-lunch, deliberately,” the Congress MP alleged outside the House.

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