The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hike in hand, time to hit out

New Delhi, Aug. 24: Parliament was a picture of unity yesterday as MPs joined hands to give themselves a pay hike. The good deed over, some of those hands clenched into fists today in a House bristling with bile.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Sadhu Yadav, brother-in-law of party chief Lalu Prasad, lunged at Opposition Janata Dal (United) leader Prabhunath Singh, who immediately rose to the challenge. Other MPs somehow managed to keep them apart but abuses flew and a speaker box was banged on the table.

Later, Lalu Prasad apologised in the House for his MPs’ behaviour but said the Opposition had used extremely provocative language.

Speaker Somnath Chatterjee got these last remarks expunged from the records but Prabhunath, protesting at the accusations accompanying the apology, dramatically handed in his resignation.

“I am not fit to be a member of this House,” he declared, a picture of offended dignity.

“He’ll come back,” the Speaker was confident. “I will personally get him (back).”

It was a barb at Lalu Prasad by Prabhunath that had lit the spark. The Dal (U) leader accused the RJD of milking the alleged rape of seven Dalit women in Lakhiserai on August 6. He then mentioned a “similar” case in Arrah — where four Dalits were lynched — with an oblique allusion to Lalu Prasad.

As RJD members erupted, Chatterjee expunged Prabhunath’s remarks, adjourned the House till 2 pm and left.

Before the members could disperse, Sadhu leapt from his seat and, fist raised, made towards Prabhunath. A group of MPs tugged at Sadhu; another held back Prabhunath, his fists raised as well.

Amid the bedlam, RJD member R.K. Rana picked a speaker box and banged it on the table. The BJP’s M.A.K. Swain claimed the box had been hurled at him but fell short, held back by the cables.

By now, the watch and ward staff were moving potential missiles — books and speaker boxes — out of harm’s way. Deputy Speaker C.S. Atwal later announced a second adjournment till 3 pm.

When proceedings resumed, the Speaker said the “very very condemnable incidents” had given Parliament a bad name.

Swain said MPs could no longer be sure they wouldn’t be physically attacked in Parliament. “Shall I come to this House with my bodyguard'”

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