Union Minister Smriti Irani in New Delhi.
Union Minister Smriti Irani in New Delhi.
PTI Photo/Kamal Kishore

BJP members in the Lok Sabha on Friday demanded an apology from Congress members T N Prathapan and Dean Kuriakose for "threatening" behaviour against Union Minister Smriti Irani after an impromptu discussion over the incident in which Unnao rape victim was set ablaze turned into an acrimonious trading of charges of politicisation of the issue.

The matter was raised by Congress member Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury whose remarks led Irani to accuse him of politicisation of the issue. The House saw three adjournments on the issue.

Speaker Om Birla asked members to evolve a code of conduct before adjourning the House for the first time. He also warned a BJP member that he will be forced to name him, which would lead to his going out of the House for the day if he advises him on whom to call and whom not to.

Chowdhury said that despite anger in the society against rape incidents, there was no respite from brutal crime and referred to brutal incidents in Hyderabad and Unnao.

He said the Unnao rape victim was set ablaze and sustained 95 per cent burns. He also said that the Babri mosque was demolished on December 6.

"On one side, a temple of Ram is being built on the other hand, Sita is being burnt ... this is the reality of India," he said amid interruptions.

Chowdhury wondered how the accused have been able to do what they have when a CBI probe was underway and the Supreme Court has intervened in the case.

"Why the accused were released from the jail. This incident in UP has ashamed everyone. It should be Uttam Pradesh but now it is Adham Pradesh," he said.

The Congress leader said while Hyderabad police had killed all the accused in gang-rape case in an encounter, the UP Police "had released the accused".

BJP member Meenakshi Lekhi said the due process was followed by the police in Hyderabad and if the accused tried to flee, then they had to take action. "The guns given to the police are not decoration," she said.

She also accused the Delhi Government of "sitting on files" relating to Nirbhaya gang-rape case and said notings should be made public.

Lekhi said that there are many more cases of crimes against women in foreign countries and India should not get a bad name for acts of a few.

Irani accused Chowdhury of linking the "issue of women security with "communal subject".

"The House would not have seen a bigger audacity on the issue concerning women. An MP from Bengal was speaking here. He was referring to the temple. He spoke of brutal incidents in Hyderabad and Unnao but was quiet on what happened in Malda. Those who used rape as a political weapon in panchayat elections, they are lecturing today," she said.

Irani said she was speaking as a member of the House and said the House has made tough laws against heinous crimes against women.

"Stop shouting at me for my ability to profess my views. The very fact that you shout here today means that you do not want a woman to stand up and talk about issues that she feels passionate about. Take your seats," she said amid interruptions.

Irani said that those who had set ablaze Unnao rape victim should be given the death penalty. "But doing politics in such cases will not help victims," she said.

Speaker Birla said that the discussion had ended but Irani urged him to allow her to speak more and referred to fast-track courts to give justice to women. After briefly allowing her to speak, the Speaker called other members to raise their issue.

Environment and Forest Minister Prakash Javadekar said that he condemns the manner in which some members had behaved when a minister was putting forth her views.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal pointed to the Congress members and said that they had behaved indecently when the minister was giving her response on the issue raised by them.

Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi said that they had only got a political answer from the minister and what they wanted to know was how the accused had come out of jail.

Amid demands of BJP for an apology from the Congress members, the Speaker said that speaking wrong and then apologising was not a good practice.

He pulled up a BJP member for suggesting who should be called to speak in the House and warned that he will be forced to name members if they make such remarks from their seats.

"You do not direct me who is to be called and who is not to be called. Do not give directions sitting on seats. Stop this system. Otherwise, I will be forced to name you and ask for your removal. This will not work," he said, apparently pointing towards BJP member Satish Kumar Gautam.

The Speaker said the House should evolve a code of conduct saying members of the opposition also make objectionable political comments.

He said the members can respond to any kind of serious political comment and if he will expunge if any unparliamentary expression is used.

"Coming to the well after making political comments and then threatening somebody is it appropriate?" he asked.

The Speaker said it might have happened in the past but not when he is the Speaker and the code of conduct should be applicable for five years. "I want your agreement, cooperation that we run the House with such dignity that the country and the world see it," he said.

Irani urged the Speaker to allow her to speak but he adjourned the House till 1.30 pm.

When the House met, BJP member sought apology TN Prathapan and Dean Kuriakose stating that they had behaved in a "threatening" manner with Irani.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said it was wrong to come in front of a woman MP in a "threatening position". "She was expressing her opinion. The behaviour is most uncalled for. Call the two members. They should apologise," he said.

BJP MP Sangeeta Kumari Singh Deo said one of the MPs behaved in a threatening way. "He pulled up his sleeve, he came forward," she said.

Lekhi, who was in the Chair, asked Congress leader Chowdhury to talk to the party MPs regarding the apology and adjourned the House till 2.30 pm.

After the House met at 2.30 pm following its two adjournments earlier, Joshi said the two members had "deliberately not reached" the House.

He said the behaviour of two members was "highly condemnable" and they should apologise.

The minister said the members, especially women members, were very agitated over the issue. He said the two members "should be summoned," asked to apologise or suspended from the proceedings for the day.

Many other BJP members also sought action against the two MPs. After BJP members had spoken, Chowdhury got up to speak.

However, Lekhi, who was in the chair, said the Congress members were not present though one hour was given (for them to be present and apologise). She then adjourned the proceedings till Monday.

BJP members alleged that Congress members had also pushed marshals earlier and strict action should be taken. They said the Congress members should be asked to apologise on Monday as they were not present in the House.

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