NEW DELHI: Parliament was rocked today over reports that Shiv Sena MPs allegedly forced a fasting Muslim worker to eat in the new Maharashtra Sadan, but government dismissed the allegations as “unsubstantiated” and said they need to be verified first lest they raise communal passions.
After uproar by opposition, the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha witnessed brief adjournments as agitated members wanted to raise the issue which was staunchly opposed by the Shiv Sena. The Lok Sabha also witnessed a walkout by the Congress, NCP, Left, PDP and AIMIM.
The Lok Sabha witnessed a storm as a BJP member Ramesh Biduri rushed to the well telling some in the opposition that “this is India. Those…go out”.
The member later apologized after Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu disapproved his conduct.
“We are dealing with a sensitive issue… Don’t try to raise communal passions. Nobody knows the truth. Whether the incident has happened or not, we are not sure,” Naidu said seeking to douse flared passions.
He said the government is in no way connected with the “unsavory” incident. “We need to enquire…Let us not send wrong signals to the country.”
Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Congress member M I Shanavas described the incident as “shocking” and said it is “cutting at the root of secularism. MPs who should be role models have become bad models…The faith of minorities has been tarnished. The House should condemn it.”
He also quoted reported statements made by the concerned employee Arshad.
Defending the Shiv Sena MPs, Union Minister Anant Geete said “Those who want to respect the month of Ramzan should not make false statement in the House” triggering sharp protests from the Opposition.
“Whatever the report has appeared is totally false and Congress is trying to tarnish the image of the Narendra Modi government,” Geete said.
In the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Prakash Javadekar said “It is an unsubstantiated report. We should not take it to the next level. Let it be ascertained. There are sensitivities involved.” Ali Anwar Ansari (JD-U) raised the issue after Zero Hour but Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said he will allow him after those who have given notices for mentions speak.
Ansari was supported by Congress members and as he rushed to the well amid sharp exchanges between treasury benches and opposition, Kurien adjourned the House for 10 minutes.
Later, Ansari said the incident is an insult to the Constitution which respects all religions and demanded action against the MPs.
“Forcing roti into the mouth of a person observing fast is against the dignity of a person,” he said.
As the uproar continued, Kurien said “It has to be ascertained whether it is fact or not. Government has assured that it will ascertain the issue and then come back to the House. Whatever the action to be taken under the law, the Government will take after that.”
In the Lok Sabha, Geete said Shiv Sena MPs staying at the new Maharashtra Sadan had gone to meet the Resident Commissioner to lodge their complaint against mismanagement there, but they could not meet him.
As soon as the Lok Sabha assembled for the day, several Opposition members raised the issue and termed it as violation of religious beliefs.
Members from Congress, RJD, Trinamool Congress and AIMIM were on their feet raising the issue. PDP members too were seen waiving a paper but they could not be heard in the din.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the House when the issue was raised.
Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge wanted the issue to be referred to the Ethics Committee.
After the storm over Biduri’s remarks, RJD member Pappu Yadav and AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi also rushed into the well.
Shiv Sena members also rushed towards the well but stopped in the aisle and some BJP members, including Kirit Somaiya, were seen pacifying them. Lok Sabha was then adjourned briefly.
Disapproving the conduct of Biduri, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Naidu said there is “need for maintaining decency and decorum of the House… We should respect each other”.
It was reported that a group of around 11 Shiv Sena MPs, apparently angry over not being served Maharashtrian food, allegedly forced a Muslim catering supervisor who was fasting for Ramzan to eat a chapati at new Maharashtra Sadan in the national capital last week.–PTI