Mallikarjun Kharge is Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.
Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday said his "self-respect had been challenged" during the Rajya Sabha proceedings after his mic was turned off while he was speaking. The move came amid an uproar in the house, with opposition members raising slogans, demanding a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the three-month-long ethnic clashes in Manipur. In response, members of the ruling BJP-led alliance began chanting 'Modi, Modi', plunging the house into chaos. The proceedings were adjourned until noon.
"It was a breach of my privilege. This is my insult. My self-respect has been challenged. If the House is run on the instructions of the government, then I will understand that it is not a democracy," the Congress president said.
Mr Kharge, who serves as the Leader of Opposition in the upper house, expressed his indignation after being interrupted mid-speech, leading to an immediate uproar from opposition members. Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar asked them to take their seats.
When he informed Mr Kharge that several MPs were standing in the rows behind him, the Congress leader said, "Mere peechhe khade agar nahi honge toh kya Modi ke peechhe khade honge? (If they will not stand behind me, will they stand behind Modi?)" Mr Dhankhar and several members were seen smiling at Mr Kharge's remarks.
Mr Dhankhar appealed to Mr Kharge and the Leader of the House Piyush Goyal to help restore order. Despite these efforts, the rancorous exchanges continued.
The Chairman clarified that the mic was not turned off. The floor was given to Mr Kharge when the House was discussing a legislative matter, Mr Dhankhar said.
"Any transgression that takes place... everyone in the House is aware that cannot be allowed. At that stage, the deputy chairperson intervened. So, it not that mics were turned off," he said.
This tumultuous session came as opposition MPs introduced notices in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha seeking discussion on the ongoing situation in Manipur, a focal point of contention that has resulted in a continual stalemate in parliament since the beginning of the monsoon session.
In the Lok Sabha, Congress MP Manickam Tagore submitted an Adjournment Motion Notice calling for discussion on the Manipur issue. Simultaneously, opposition Rajya Sabha MPs Tiruchi Siva of DMK and RJD's Manoj Jha have put forth Suspension of Business Notices under Rule 267, requesting a suspension of the day's remaining agenda to address the unrest in the embattled northeastern state.
Several other opposition members, including Congress' Ranjeet Ranjan, Rajeev Shukla, and Aam Aadmi Party's Raghav Chadha, have endorsed similar calls to prioritize discussions on Manipur's predicament.
The opposition's alliance, known as the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, has also introduced a no-confidence motion against the government in the Lok Sabha.
With the parliament reconvening at 11 am on the fifth day of the monsoon session, the agenda included statements from Union Minister Jitendra Singh on the implementation of Standing Committee Recommendations, a proposed amendment to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969, and a motion for election to the council of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore.
The central government has stated its readiness for a discussion on the Manipur situation, although opposition parties are pressing for a debate under a rule that would require a vote. Home Minister Amit Shah has reached out to opposition leaders in both Houses of Parliament, asserting the government's willingness to discuss the issue and urging bipartisan cooperation.