Congress MP Rahul Gandhi slammed junior Home Minister Ajay Mishra in Parliament
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Thursday renewed his attack on junior Home Minister Ajay Mishra - whose son Ashish is an accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri farmers killing case - and demanded he either be sacked or resign.
"The minister must resign," Mr Gandhi said in the Lok Sabha, as Mr Mishra clocked in to his offices in Delhi's North Block this morning, which is less than a kilometre away.
Another - and significantly more forceful comment by Mr Gandhi was later expunged from the record.
"We should be allowed to speak about the murder that was committed in Lakhimpur Kheri... where there was an involvement of the Minister and about which it has been said that it was a conspiracy," he was quoted as saying, inside Parliament, by news agency ANI.
Opposition MPs served notices in both Houses calling for debates on the investigating police team's "planned conspiracy" remark. The protests, which included placards reading "justice for Lakhimpur victims" and "sack MoS Home", caused an adjournment, first till 2 pm and then for the day.
In the Rajya Sabha, Chairman Venkaiah Naidu said he would not allow House business to be suspended for this purpose, and stopped Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge from speaking, triggering further protests from the Congress and other parties.
Mr Gandhi's demand was also reiterated by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who tweeted that the government's refusal to sack Mr Mishra was "the starkest indication of its moral bankruptcy".
"The government's refusal to sack Ajay Mishra 'Teni' is the starkest indication of its moral bankruptcy. Narendra Modi ji, carefully curated spectacles of piety and wearing religious attire will not change the fact that you are protecting a criminal," she said.
Several opposition MPs voiced similar demands.
"I think he should resign... the biggest thing in a democracy. PM should take his resignation. Only then will the House be quiet. People will also feel the PM is taking democracy forward..." National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah told NDTV.
Samajwadi Party MP Ram Gopal Yadav also spoke to NDTV and pointed out: "... on the basis of the report given by the SIT in the court, you (Ajay Mishra) should resign."
Speaking to NDTV after the protests, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi slammed the opposition for deliberately stalling legislative work. He said the government was unwilling to discuss the Lakhimpur Kheri incident and the SIT's observation because the matter is sub judice.
"A Supreme Court-monitored investigation is going on... the matter is sub judice. But there are other things to talk about. I am appealing to the opposition to discuss this. If we have made mistakes, then give us constructive suggestions. We are ready to talk about Covid, for example..." he said.
Mr Joshi told NDTV it was wrong of the opposition to deliberately obstruct Parliament's functioning.
In the growing (and ever-more hostile) stand-off between the government and the opposition over the Lakhimpur Kheri killings, Rahul Gandhi also led the opposition charge on Wednesday when he targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and accused him of shielding the minister.
"It has been said that it (Lakhimpur Kheri incident) is a conspiracy. It obviously is. Everyone knows whose son is involved. We want the minister to resign. We want a discussion in parliament. But the PM refuses. They are making excuses," he told reporters inside Parliament.
Yesterday too the BJP countered by underlining that the Lakhimpur Kheri case is sub judice.
Ajay Mishra, a junior minister in PM Modi's government, is facing renewed demands for his resignation after farmers were run over in UP's Lakhimpur Kheri, on October 3, by a convoy of cars.
Mr Mishra's son Ashish Mishra is an accused; he was allegedly at the wheel of one of the vehicles in the convoy. Police have said the death of the farmers was part of a "planned conspiracy".
Ajay Mishra met with his son in jail yesterday. He seems far from quitting, or being fired, at this time.
Yesterday Ajay Mishra was seen lunging at a reporter and abusing the media when asked about the charges against his son.
On October 3, eight people were killed at Lakhimpur Kheri during a farmers' protest. In violence that broke out afterwards, three more, including two BJP workers, were killed.
With input from ANI, PTI