NEW DELHI: India’s opposition parties on Saturday united behind a Muslim MP and demanded the suspension of a Hindu right deputy who abused him with an Islamophobic slur.
BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri had called Danish Ali a terrorist during a discussion on India’s successful moon-landing.
Mr Ali is a Lok Sabha MP from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of Dalit leader Mayawati.
Hours after Mr Ali said he may consider leaving the Lok Sabha if Speaker Om Birla does not take “appropriate action” against Mr Bidhuri for his communal tirade in parliament, several opposition leaders, including Congress’ Rahul Gandhi, visited Mr Ali’s house late on Friday.
Video of Bidhuri’s controversial references to Danish Ali has gone viral
Mr Gandhi, accompanied by Congress general secretary K.C. Venugopal and MP Imran Pratapgarhi, held a closed-door meeting with Danish Ali for about 40 minutes. While leaving Danish Ali’s house, he told the media, “In a market of hatred, here’s a shop of love.”
Speaking to Newslaundry portal, Mr Ali said: “I have no dispute with Ramesh Bidhuri. He should tell us in which shakha or laboratory has he received such training? Earlier, these things would happen on the streets, but now in Amrit Kaal, in the parliament’s new premises, during the special session, hate speech is being witnessed. What is more shameful is that Bidhuri’s fellow BJP MPs Dr Harsh Vardhan and Ravi Shankar Prasad were seen smiling and thumping the desk even as Bidhuri continued using communal slurs. Where will you take this country?”
The mindset of using communal slurs was earlier found in nooks of villages, but it has now reached the parliament, said MP Imran Pratapgarhi. “What could be more shameful than the fact that communal abuses were used inside the parliament of the country.”
Mr Pratapgarhi said if no stringent action is taken, it would be clear that “the government’s intention was to abuse”.
Following the Congress leaders’ visit, Mr Ali retweeted Rahul Gandhi’s post on their meeting, and wrote: “Your sudden visit has boosted my morale! Hate will lose, love will win!!!”
During a discussion on Chandrayaan-3 in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday evening, Mr Bidhuri used communal slurs against Danish Ali.
Following the opposition’s objection to portions of his speech, the Speaker issued a warning to Mr Bidhuri over his remarks, which have now been expunged.
The opposition parties have demanded Mr Bidhuri’s suspension.
Danish Ali also reportedly wrote a letter to the Lok Sabha speaker, seeking appropriate action.
He wrote, “This is most unfortunate and the fact that this happened in the new Parliament and under your leadership as Speaker is truly heart-breaking for me as a minority member of this great nation and an elected member of Parliament.”
BSP supremo Mayawati on Friday said it was “unfortunate” that the BJP has not yet taken “appropriate” action against Mr Bidhuri for his objectionable remarks against her party’s MP.
The BJP has issued a show-cause notice to Mr Bidhuri for his use of objectionable words in parliament.
In a post in Hindi on X, Ms Mayawati said, “Although the speaker has expunged the objectionable remarks made by BJP MP against BSP MP Danish Ali, warned him and a senior minister has apologised in the House, but it is sad/unfortunate that the party has not yet taken appropriate action against him.”
Defence Minister and former BJP chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Rajnath Singh, expressed regret for Mr Bidhuri’s remarks.
The video of Mr Bidhuri’s controversial references to the Muslim MP has gone viral with opposition parties demanding strict action against him, including suspension from the House.
Speaker Birla has cautioned him and warned of strict action if such an offence is repeated.
Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2023