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Renuka notice on Rijiju video

Renuka Chowdhury. Picture by Prem Singh

New Delhi: Congress MP Renuka Chowdhury, under attack from trolls for guffawing in the Rajya Sabha at a claim made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Friday submitted a privilege notice against minister Kiren Rijiju for sharing on Facebook a video showing Surpanakha.

When Rajya Sabha chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu reprimanded Chowdhury on Wednesday, Modi had intervened to say that he had heard such laughter for the first time after the Ramayana serial.

The comment had set off a guessing game as to which character the Prime Minister had in mind.

Union minister of state for home Rijiju had that evening posted on Facebook a video of Surpanakha cackling, along with a clip of the Prime Minister's jibe at Chowdhury. Labelled anti-woman by some people, Rijiju removed the Facebook post.

As the Congress announced its plans to move a privilege notice, Rijiju on Thursday night referred to an earlier tweet by him saying Modi did not get irritated "despite such vexatious laugh". He added: "Renuka ji, I fail to comprehend in which way did I insult the women dignity? I merely referred to PM's equanimity." But Rijiju remained silent on the Facebook post featuring the Surpanakha clip.

On Friday, Chowdhury, after trying to raise the matter in the Rajya Sabha and being told by chairman Naidu to submit the notice to him first, met him in his chamber and did as told.

The Rajya Sabha secretariat will first examine if there is a prima facie case for a privilege notice. If it fits the bill, it will be referred to the Lok Sabha Speaker as Rijiju is a member of the lower House.

On Friday, Naidu intervened in the twilight hours of the pre-recess budget session to express pain at the way the House had functioned and the "utter disregard for parliamentary procedure" as a result of which no Question Hour or Zero Hour could be conducted for five days.

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