- MPs from Congress, BJP traded allegations of pushing each other around
- Row began when BJP's Harsh Vardhan slammed Rahul Gandhi's "Danda" remark
- Rahul Gandhi had said unemployed youths will one day beat PM with sticks
Rahul Gandhi's remarks on young men "beating Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a danda (stick)" and the ruling BJP's condemnation set up unmitigated chaos in parliament today, with rival MPs appearing to come to blows.
"Congress MPs came to my seat in the house, tried to attack me and snatch my papers," alleged Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, who raised Rahul Gandhi's comments in the Lok Sabha. Congress MP Shashi Tharoor denied it and said it was his party MP who had instead been pushed around.
It all started when Rahul Gandhi, the Congress MP from Kerala, asked a listed question on medical colleges. The Health Minister, instead of answering him, proceeded to read a statement condemning the comments he had made against the PM at a rally to campaign for the Delhi election.
"Sir, please excuse me. Before I begin answering this question of dear Shri Rahul Gandhi ji. I want to condemn in no uncertain words the outlandish language that he has used against the prime minister of the country," Harsh Vardhan said.
Speaker Om Birla asked the minister to stick to his answer but he continued to read out his statement.
As furious Congress members crowded around the speaker's chair shouting slogans against Harsh Vardhan, a Congress MP from Tamil Nadu, Manickam Tagore, walked over to the government benches and shouted at minister, who was speaking from the second row. Some BJP MPs then appeared to be holding Mr Tagore back.
In the midst of all this, Harsh Vardhan did not stop reading his statement. "In a recent speech, he (Gandhi) used words like six mahine baad, iss desh ka yuva, Narendra Modi ko dande maar maar ke desh se bahar karenge. (In six months, the unemployed youth will beat Modi with sticks and throw him out). His father was prime minister too. I don't think in the worst case our party leaders have ever made such outlandish personal remarks threatening to beat with dandas (sticks) and throwing out of the country," the Health Minister said, urging the house to condemn the comments.
After repeated disruptions, the speaker adjourned the house till Monday.
"BJP obviously doesn't like me to speak in the house. So in a completely unparliamentary manner the Health Minister raised something that I had said outside, which he has no business doing. I think the main issue is that we are being stifled. We are not allowed to speak in parliament," Mr Gandhi told reporters.
He also tweeted: "The orchestrated ruckus in Parliament today was designed to prevent me from questioning the government. The youth of India can clearly see that the PM has no clue about how to tackle the unemployment crisis. To protect him, the BJP will keep disrupting Parliament, preventing debate."
Several BJP MPs demanded Manickam Tagore's expulsion and also Mr Gandhi's apology.
The Congress leader had made the remarks while campaigning for tomorrow's Delhi election.
Not only did the BJP raise it in parliament, but even PM Modi, addressing a crowd in Assam's Kokrajhar, said: "Mothers and sisters have come to bless me in such huge numbers. Sometimes people talk of beating me with sticks. This Modi, who is protected by blessings of so many mothers and sisters, no stick can harm him."
On Thursday, PM Modi in parliament referred to the comment and joked that he would increase the number of Surya Namaskars (a yoga exercise) to prep his back for the "beating".