Bhima-Koregaon clashes force repeated adjournments in Rajya Sabha

Malliarjun Kharge speaking in Lok Sabha.

Malliarjun Kharge speaking in Lok Sabha.  

Proceedings were briefly disrupted in the Lok Sabha too.

Sunday’s clashes during the bicentenary celebrations of the Bhima-Koregaon battle and the subsequent violence that spread across Maharashtra forced repeated adjournments in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. The Lok Sabha too had to be adjourned for 15 minutes over the same issue.

The issues of violence and bandh in Maharashtra were raised by the Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad in the Rajya Sabha. He sought for suspension of business and discussion on what he called targetted attacks on Dalits.

But Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu disallowed his notice since the State government has already ordered a judicial inquiry.

Later, speaking to the reporters, Mr. Azad claimed that in States where the BJP is in power, “Dalits are exploited, beaten up, raped and killed.”

“They [BJP] are [following] the best disciples of the British’s divide and rule policy. They are anti-Dalit. Scores of Dalits are being killed and yet they don’t want a debate on the issue in the House,” he said.

In the Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan refused to entertain privilege and adjournment motions brought by MPs. She, however, permitted members to raise the issue during the Zero Hour.

In a rare case, Ms. Mahajan began the Zero Hour with an appeal to the members. “Though we are representing a region in this House, we are here to represent the country in large. I request everyone to keep the entire nation in mind when raising issues here,” she said.

Speaking about the clashes, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said Dalits are often being targetted in the country, citing examples of tensions in Maharashtra and Rohith Vemula’s suicide.

“Whenever Dalits rise up to live a life with self-respect, certain people are trying to curb it. The same has happened in Bhima-Koregaon now,” he said.

The Bhima-Koregaon memorial has been visited by Dalits for many years, but such an incident has never happened before, he said.

“Who has instigated this violence now, Mr. Kharge asked, squarely blaming the RSS-affiliated groups for the violence. This was objected to by BJP MPs.

Mr. Kharge also targetted the Prime Minister for “keeping mum whenever atrocities against Dalits occur.” He also demanded a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a judicial inquiry headed by a Supreme Court judge.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar in turn accused Mr. Kharge of politicising the issue. “Congress is facing failure in every state elections. So they are flaring up this issue. Congress is applying divide and rule policy in the country,” he said.

Condemning the violence, Trinamool Congress member Saugata Roy blamed the Maharashtra government for not doing enough to prevent the clashes.

Shiv Sena’s Shivaji Patil claimed the issue is wrongly being dubbed as clashes between Marathas and Dalits. “Marathas are not involved in it,” he said.

Jalna MP Raosaheb Dhanve (BJP) came in support of the Devendra Fadnavis government. “These clashes are orchestrated with an ulterior motive to hide the development brought by the State government,” he said.

As Congress members continued to shout slogans, Ms. Mahajan adjourned the house for 15 minutes.

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(With inputs from Sobhana Nair in New Delhi)

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 7:49:57 AM |

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