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Trinamul jab at Speaker backfires

New Delhi, July 9: Speaker Sumitra Mahajan today asked members to behave after Trinamul MP Kalyan Banerjee accused her of “bias” in not taking action against the BJP member who allegedly misbehaved with some women lawmakers of the Bengal party.

Targeting the Speaker backfired on Trinamul as its members could not achieve either of their two aims: raise the issue of the alleged misbehaviour by BJP MP Harinarayan Rajbhar and extract an apology, and slam the Centre over the “anti-Bengal” railway budget.

“Since yesterday, the undignified conduct of some members is extremely unfortunate… if the MPs expect that their dignity should be protected, it is their duty to conduct themselves in a dignified manner and abide by the rules of the House,” Sumitra said.

Banerjee, the Trinamul chief whip in the Lok Sabha, had earlier in the day accused the Speaker of being biased and favouring the ruling party. BJP members claimed that Banerjee and some of his Trinamul colleagues had called the Speaker a “BJP and Modi mouthpiece”.

Banerjee apologised later. “Madam, in the morning during the agitation (against the alleged misbehaviour), some of my utterances may have hurt your sentiments. I am really sorry for hurting your sentiments.”

Immediately after his apology, though, Banerjee tried to raise Rajbhar’s alleged misdemeanour but the Speaker cut him short saying it had already been brought up yesterday. “No, I am sorry. Saugata Roy of your party raised the issue yesterday,” Sumitra said.

The fracas allegedly involving Rajbhar had occurred when the Trinamul MPs were raising slogans against the Prime Minister over the rail budget, chanting “Narendra Modi hai hai (Shame Narendra Modi).”

Rajbhar and his BJP colleagues had denied the charges and instead said some Trinamul MPs used “unparliamentary” language against Modi.

Today, Trinamul members resorted to slogan-shouting in Bengali from their seats but gave up after a while, realising perhaps that a discussion on price rise had started and it may not be politically correct to disrupt the discussion on an issue affecting the common man.

Earlier in the day, the MPs staged a dharna in front of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in the Parliament complex demanding a rollback of the rail budget and action against Rajbhar. Inside, the party had planned to raise both issues strongly but Banerjee’s insinuations against the Speaker meant they could not.

Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, who had yesterday alleged the BJP MP was “drunk” and “threatened to beat us”, tried to raise the matter today while participating in the price rise debate. She claimed her party had suspended its agitation to discuss inflation but would continue to fight for justice.

“For the last two days, I have been weeping. The kind of language a ruling party member has used against me, I cannot tell here. I want action to be taken against the MP,” Kakoli said, but was asked by the Speaker to stick to price rise.