New Delhi: Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge alleged Wednesday that his mike was switched off while he was speaking in the Rajya Sabha the previous day. On Wednesday, addressing Rajya Sabha chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar, Kharge — who is also Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House — said his self-respect had been “challenged”.
Kharge said that he spoke after getting permission from the deputy chairman in line with Rules 235 and 236. “Whenever the Leader of the House gets up, he gets permission to speak, but I have to keep raising my hand and getting exasperated. When you look here, that’s when I get the chance. I’d risen with the hope that I will be able to talk. I was presenting my issues to the House,” he said.
Referring to notices submitted by opposition MPs demanding a long-duration discussion on the situation in Manipur, he added, “When 50 people have presented notice under 267, if I’m not allowed to speak, that is also fine.
“But at least when I’m speaking, the mike shouldn’t be suddenly switched off. This is my privilege. I have been insulted. My self-respect has been challenged. If the House is being run as per the government, then I will have to say that democracy is dead.”
The issue was first raised in the Rajya Sabha by DMK MP Tiruchi Siva who said that there must be an explanation for Kharge’s mike allegedly being switched off.
Vice President Dhankhar, on his part, maintained that no mikes were switched off.
“I’ve checked with the deputy chairperson. The floor was given to the Leader of the Opposition at a time when there was legislative business. Any transgression that takes place away from the main theme can’t be allowed.
“At that stage, the deputy chairperson intervened. It is not that mikes were switched off. It means the indulgence accorded by the chair to a particular member to focus on the issue which is the subject matter of discussion. And if the member transgresses it and goes into another domain, that surely cannot be allowed,” Dhankhar said.
Kharge, meanwhile, also responded to a letter addressed to him by Union Home Minister Amit Shah Tuesday in which he appealed to all opposition parties to “come forward for a discussion” in Parliament.
“You will remember that the parties of the INDIA bloc have continuously demanded that the PM make a statement on the floor of the House on the situation in Manipur since 3 May and after that an extended discussion be held in both houses. Given the situation in Manipur for the last 84 days and the kind of incidents that are coming to the fore, it is expected from all political parties that we at least raise these issues at the country’s highest forum to restore peace in Manipur and give people a message,” Kharge wrote to Shah.
In the letter, Kharge also said there is a “world of difference in what you’ve said in your letter and what you are doing”. The attitude of the government, he wrote, is “opposite to the sentiment expressed in your letter whereby it is being insensitive and arbitrary on the floor of the House”.
Kharge, in the letter, also referred to the suspension of AAP MP Sanjay Singh and Congress MP Rajani Patil, saying that small incidents were being blown out of proportion. He further mentioned how despite multiple notices submitted to the chair under Rule 267, requests for a long-duration discussion on the situation in Manipur were not admitted.
Kharge also condemned Prime Minister Narendra Modi equating the Opposition to terrorists. “PM equates the Opposition to British colonisers and terrorists and on the same day, home minister writes an emotional letter and expects the Opposition to work conscientiously.”
“If the government is serious about allowing proceedings in Parliament, then this can easily be done by giving the Opposition a chance to speak,” Kharge wrote in his letter to Shah.
(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)