The BJP parliamentarian from South Delhi, Ramesh Bidhuri, hurled a series of offensive words at a Muslim MP in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, indelibly scarring the special session that should have been known for the passage of the women’s bill with one of the most revolting chapters in independent India.
The outburst prompted key Opposition parties to question the culture of the RSS and the worth of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “sabka saath” slogan.
The obscene words, fraught with hatred for Muslims, were expunged from parliamentary records by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.
But Danish Ali, the BSP MP who was targeted, repeated the words at a media conference at his home on Friday and in a letter to the Speaker.
Normally, newspapers do not publish such foul language. However, since Ali felt compelled to mention the abuses, which underscore how deep hate has struck roots in this country — neither Bidhuri’s station in life as an elected representative of the people in a republic nor the hallowed status of the House of the People prevented him from unleashing the invectives — it would be unfair to Ali to censor the words he said outside the House.
Besides, Ali made a most important point while speaking to reporters: such language is used against Muslims regularly outside Parliament.
Ali wrote: “During the course of his speech (on the success of the Chandrayaan mission), he directed the most foul, abusive invectives against me. Bhadwa (pimp), katwa (circumcised), mulla ugravadi (Muslim extremist) and atankwadi (terrorist).”
Ali threatened to resign from the Lok Sabha if action was not taken against Bidhuri and demanded that the matter be referred to the privileges committee.
The Speaker’s response, a stern warning to the BJP member, dismayed the Opposition parties and a large number of citizens on social media, who demanded Bidhuri’s immediate arrest. Several leaders underlined that Opposition MPs had been suspended for far lesser indiscretions while Bidhuri’s outburst had the potential of disturbing the communal situation in the country.
The Prime Minister, who let off Bhopal MP Pragya Singh for insulting Mahatma Gandhi and praising Nathuram Godse, saying only that he wouldn’t forgive her “from the heart”, hasn’t reacted to this controversy.
During Modi’s first term, Niranjan Jyoti had continued as minister after describing the political situation as a fight between “Ramzade and Haramzade”. The BJP has issued a showcause notice to Bidhuri, who has to reply in 15 days.
Congress leader Kodikunnal Suresh, who was in the Chair when the incident took place, said he had instructed officials to expunge the expressions. Defence minister Rajnath Singh got up after the Opposition’s protest in the House to say: “I express regret if the Opposition is hurt by the remarks made by the member.”
Two former ministers, Harsh Vardhan and Ravi Shankar Prasad, who were allegedly seen giggling when their colleague was attacking and humiliating an entire community, also provoked anger and shock on social media. Prasad said he had never supported undignified comments. Harsh Vardhan gave a detailed clarification explaining how he enjoyed good relations with Muslims, being an MP from Chandni Chowk.
Rahul Gandhi visited Danish Ali’s residence to express solidarity, signalling he would not sit quiet if any community was targeted.
Congress communications chief Jairam Ramesh said: “New Parliament started with Bidhuri’s words. This shows the BJP’s real intent. Strong action should be taken against this MP. It is a fit case for suspension.”
The Congress has written to the Speaker seeking action against Bidhuri.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad said: “The Prime Minister has given birth to a distorted socio-political culture against the rich parliamentary traditions of the country, in which one of his MPs glorified the terrorist who killed Mahatma Gandhi.”
Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav said: “Bidhuri is not alone in the BJP who speaks this language; there are countless others who have made toxic remarks. Bidhuri should not be allowed to contest any election in future.”
The kind of despondency that prevails among sections of the Muslim community was reflected in the response of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah.
He said: “Had he only called us terrorists, we are accustomed to this slur. We are called terrorists daily on social media. But he used such words which cannot be repeated on television. We feel ashamed; angry as well. This is how Muslims are being treated. I wonder how the leaders who support this kind of narrative sleep at night?”
RJD leader Manoj Jha said: “This is sad but we are not surprised. This is the truth of Modi’s Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. The MP who hailed Godse as a patriot belongs to which party? If this is happening in Parliament, what would the Muslim on the street be facing? Why is the Prime Minister silent? Does this behaviour have his sanction?”
Trinamul’s Mahua Moitra said: “Abusing Muslims and OBCs is an integral part of the BJP culture — most now see nothing wrong in it. Narendra Modi has reduced Indian Muslims to living in such a state of fear in their own land that they grin and bear everything.”
AAP leader Sanjay Singh said: “This is the language of the mafia. Is this what the RSS teaches? ...Om Birla should act....”
Muslim MPs were anguished. Asaduddin Owaisi of the AIMIM said: “There is nothing surprising in this. The BJP is an abyss; a new low is discovered every day. I am convinced there will be no action. He may be appointed as Delhi BJP chief. Muslims are treated in India today just like the Jews were treated in Hitler’s Germany. I have a suggestion — Modi should translate this video into Arabic and send it to his friends abroad.”
Samajwadi Party MP Hasan Ali said: “Parliament is now being used as a platform to humiliate Muslims. We never thought we would see this day in India. What is the message Parliament is sending out to the world?”