Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Santanu Sen on Thursday alleged that Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri threatened and verbally abused him in the Rajya Sabha after the house was adjourned amid uproar. The TMC MP alleged that the minister was "on the verge of physically assaulting him", however, he was rescued by his colleagues.
Sen, earlier in the day snatched papers from Communications and Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw in the house and tore them as he was making a statement on the snooping issue, claimed that Puri even rudely gesticulated at him. Puri has so far not reacted on the issue.
After the house was adjourned, Santanu Sen while talking to media said, "After the House got adjourned, I was suddenly called by Hardeep Puri in a very bad manner. I still went to him but he started threatening me. He was abusing me and was about to assault me physically. I was almost gheraoed. Thank God, my colleagues noticed it and rescued me. This is absolutely unfortunate."
Narrating the sequence of events as it unfolded in the Rajya Sabha, TMC Chief Whip Sukhendu Sekhar Ray alleged that the Union communications and information technology minister's statement was full of lies.
He said minutes after Sen snatched the paper from the minister's hands, Vaishnaw was handed over another copy and he continued to read.
Soon after, the House was adjourned but not before the statement was tabled and considered as read.
"The minister's statement was full of contradictions and white lies. So one of our members snatched and tore it," TMC Chief Whip Sukhendu Sekhar Ray said.
Union Minister Meenakshi Lekhi condemned the conduct of opposition members in the Rajya Sabha and said it was a "new low" in India's parliamentary democracy. Meanwhile, the TMC maintained that it would continue to obstruct Parliament proceedings till the government agrees to a "structured discussion" on the issue of snooping using Israeli spyware Pegasus.
TMC's Parliamentary party leader Derek O'Brien said not the Union IT minister, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi should reply to the opposition's questions.
(With agency inputs)