Amidst acrimonious scenes in the Gujarat Assembly, the Speaker on Wednesday suspended Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani for a day for not apologising for his mention of scrap iron being used for the construction of the Statue of Unity (SoU).
Earlier, Speaker Rajendra Trivedi had to adjourn the House proceedings twice as heated exchanges continued between the opposition and treasury benches with the ruling BJP demanding an apology from Mr Dhanani.
The second sitting on Wednesday began with acrimonious scenes when Congress MLA from Mansa raised questions about the Statue of Unity, the expenditure on it and the tourism income from it. Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel started giving a detailed reply to the questions.
When he was speaking, Paresh Dhanani said that scrap iron collected from across the country was used in the making of the statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and that this was an insult to the Iron Man. Immediately after this, Mr Patel and thereafter all BJP legislators demanded an apology from him.
This led to a huge uproar forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House for 45 minutes. Noisy scenes were sparked off when the House re-assembled as the Speaker ruled after checking the video recording that Mr Dhanani had indeed said that the "Sardar was captured in Scrap Iron".
Mr Dhanani reiterated that the very same words 'Scrap Iron' were used in the official website of the Statue of Unity and wondered that the ruling party had an objection to its mention. But the BJP MLAs were in no mood to relent until Mr Dhanani apologised. The Speaker adjourned the House again.
As the House assembled again, Mr Patel moved a motion to suspend Mr Dhanani for the day, which was seconded by Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama. The Speaker then suspended Mr Dhanani even as the entire Opposition staged a walkout in the evening.
Later, Mr Dhanani told reporters: "When the government itself is mentioning 'scrap iron' being used for the statue in the official website, why there are double standards, when I mentioned it? Actually by using the 'scrap iron' for making a statue of the great man, the BJP has insulted Sardar."
Meanwhile, Nitin Patel persisted with his demand that Mr Dhanani should take back his words. "The Congress will have to face dire consequences if Dhanani doesn't take back his words, which is an insult to Sardar," Mr Patel said.
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