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Congress' Adhir Chowdhury cites Arun Jaitley's words to justify Lok Sabha protest

'Arun Jaitley used to say: ‘Disruption is also a legitimate weapon of democracy’,' Adhir quips

  • Published 10.07.19, 7:54 AM
  • Updated 10.07.19, 7:54 AM
  • 2 mins read
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A screen grab of Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, speaking in Parliament on Tuesday (PTI)

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Tuesday invoked Arun Jaitley’s words to justify a protest by Congress MPs in the well of the Lok Sabha, accusing the BJP of subverting democracy in Karnataka.

“Sir, a very tall and senior leader of this House, whom I hold in high regard, Arun Jaitley, used to say: ‘Disruption is also a legitimate weapon of democracy’. So what to do Sir, we also learn from our seniors,” Adhir, the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, said when Speaker Om Birla took exception to the protest in the well.

The treasury bench members appeared to be stumped by the reply.

Jaitley, as the BJP’s leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, and his Lok Sabha counterpart Sushma Swaraj had justified the stalling of Parliament during the UPA’s second term in office.

“Parliament’s job is to conduct discussions. But many a time, Parliament is used to ignore issues and in such situations, obstruction of Parliament is in the favour of democracy. Therefore parliamentary obstruction is not undemocratic,” Jaitley had said in 2011.

Adhir invoked his words when the Speaker sought to warn Congress members for disrupting the House.

“You have to protect the dignity of this House. Don’t turn this House into a municipal corporation by bringing placards,” Om Birla said, before allowing Adhir to speak. Birla also spoke of banning the carrying of placards into the House by MPs.

Adhir responded that the Congress was fully cooperating in raising the productivity of the House, but as an Opposition party their job was also to raise important issues. He then went on to accuse the BJP of engaging in “poaching politics” and using “money” to lure away MLAs.

“People in the government are saying that ‘today Karnataka and tomorrow Madhya Pradesh’. This poaching politics should stop. ‘Shikar ki rajniti band hona chahiye’,” Adhir said. “Poaching politics is endangering our democracy”

He continued: “You (the BJP) say you have no role in (destabilising the government) in Karnataka. But when an MLA comes out of Raj Bhavan, there is a car ready for him, when he is at the airport, there is an aircraft ready for him...”

The Congress then staged a walkout. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were among the MPs who walked out. Earlier, Rahul had joined the protest, standing at the edge of the well.

For the second day in a row, Congress members waved placards and raised “Save Democracy” slogans.

The Congress had moved an adjournment motion again on Tuesday and, after it was disallowed, wanted to raise the issue during zero hour. The government opposed this, claiming the same issue cannot be repeated, according to the rules. The Congress had raised the Karnataka issue in the House on Monday.

As the Congress walked out, defence minister and deputy leader Rajnath Singh rose to respond. He charged the Congress members with misusing the permission to speak. Rajnath said the BJP had no role to play in the resignations by MLAs in Karnataka.

“It’s a fact that whatever is happening in Karnataka is the Congress’s internal issue. They are unable to keep their house in order and are stalling the proceedings of this House. This cannot be justified in any manner,” Rajnath said.

The Karnataka issue rocked the Rajya Sabha, too, leading to two adjournments.

Sonia on Tuesday rushed senior party leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and B.H. Hariprasad to Bangalore for crisis management.