BJP member Ramesh Bidhuri uses communal remarks in Lok Sabha

BSP’s Danish Ali writes to Speaker Om Birla about the ‘heartbreaking incident’, Opposition leaders demand BJP MP’s suspension; words expunged from records; BJP issues show-cause notice

September 22, 2023 03:32 pm | Updated September 23, 2023 02:14 am IST - NEW DELHI

BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri speaks in the Lok Sabha on September 21, 2023. Photo: Sansad TV via PTI

BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri speaks in the Lok Sabha on September 21, 2023. Photo: Sansad TV via PTI

BJP member Ramesh Bidhuri used crude and communal slurs against Bahujan Samaj Party member Kunwar Danish Ali on the floor of the Lok Sabha late on September 21 evening, creating a political storm.

Speaker Om Birla warned Mr. Bidhuri that strict action would be taken if such behaviour was repeated and the words were expunged from the record. But Opposition MPs are firm in their demand that Mr. Bidhuri be suspended from the Lok Sabha.

By mid evening on September 22, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi paid a call on Mr. Ali to express his solidarity with him, and responded to press queries on the purpose of his visit as “Nafrat ke bazaar main Mohabbat ki dukaan” (In the market place of hate, a shop of love), reinforcing the Congress’ accusations that the BJP does “communal politics”. Constituents of the INDIA bloc followed it up by sending identical letters to the Speaker to demand that the matter be referred to the Privileges Committee. Interestingly, Mr. Ali’s own party, the BSP, has maintained a distance from the INDIA bloc so far.

Throughout the day, Opposition MPs from Mohua Moitra of the Trinamool Congress, to Manoj Jha of the RJD and Asaduddin Owaisi of the AIMIM took up cudgels on behalf of Mr. Ali.

Show-cause notice

By afternoon, the BJP, in damage control mode, issued a show-cause notice to Mr. Bidhuri, but till the time of writing, the notice had not been released to the press.

Mr. Ali himself wrote to Mr. Birla, demanding that Mr. Bidhuri’s remarks be referred to the Privileges Committee of the Lok Sabha.

This is most unfortunate and the fact that this happened in the new Parliament and under your leadership as Speaker is truly heartbreaking for me as a minority member of this great nation and an elected member of Parliament,” Mr. Ali wrote in his letter, a copy of which is available with The Hindu.

Mr. Bidhuri made these remarks during a discussion on Chandrayaan in the Lok Sabha late on September 21 evening. During an exchange on some objections raised by Mr. Ali while Mr. Bidhuri was delivering his speech, Mr. Bidhuri let loose a barrage of crude communal slurs in Hindi, with former Union Ministers Dr. Harshvardhan and Ravi Shankar Prasad seen smiling sitting behind Mr. Bidhuri in the House.

Dr. Harshvardhan in a post on X later defended himself stating that: “While I was no doubt witness to the jugglery of words being thrown at each other (which in fact the entire House was), the truth of the matter is that in the chaos that existed, I could not clearly hear what was being said.”

Congress MP Kodikunnil Suresh, who was in chair at the time of the exchange, said that as soon as he was alerted to the abuse, he ruled that the remarks be expunged and that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh expressed regret as well.

Mr. Suresh did admit that this was “not the first time” Mr. Bidhuri had used objectionable language in Parliament.

On September 21, when the Women’s Reservation Bill was being discussed in the Lok Sabha, Mr. Bidhuri was accused by the Opposition members of heckling DMK member Kanimozhi even before she could begin her speech.

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