Highlights

  • Kharge jabs Dhankar amid mimicry row
  • 'Should I say I'm not allowed to speak in Parliament because I'm Dalit'
  • Dhankhar, who is also the Rajya Sabha chairperson, has flayed the mimicry

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Should I say I'm not allowed to speak in Parliament because I'm Dalit: Kharge jabs Dhankar

Talking to reporters, Kharge said the chairperson's job is to give protection to other members but he himself is making such a statement.

Should I say I'm not allowed to speak in Parliament because I'm Dalit: Kharge jabs Dhankar

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday said castes should not be dragged into every issue and wondered if he should rake up his Dalit origins every time he is not allowed to speak in the Rajya Sabha, amid a row over mimicry of Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar.

Dhankhar, who is also the Rajya Sabha chairperson, has flayed the mimicry, calling it an insult to his background as a farmer and Jat (his caste). The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has echoed a similar view.

Talking to reporters, Kharge said the chairperson's job is to give protection to other members but he himself is making such a statement.

"I am not allowed to speak in the Rajya Sabha often. Should I say it is because I am a Dalit?" he asked.

Kharge said one should not incite people outside Parliament in the name of caste by talking about it inside the House.

"I felt very bad. If everyone brings up his caste every time and says his or her caste is affected.... My caste is always affected. I am not allowed to speak. Whatever questions I raise, I do not get an answer. We wanted to speak, Chidambaram, Vaiko, others were there and rose to speak but all their (BJP) members started slogan shouting," the Congress chief said.

For 10 people, if 200 from the ruling side stand up to disrupt the House proceedings, it is a mockery of democracy, he said.

Kharge asserted that the mimicry incident happened outside the House and said everyone has seen that.

"It has happened outside the House. Passing a resolution inside the House, condemning it, what is this? The parliamentary affairs minister was given time to speak and make resolutions and we want to speak the truth, but we are not getting permission," he alleged.

"We do not want to insult anyone and neither is that our intention. It is not in our character to do so," Kharge said.

He also wondered that when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah are in Delhi, why are they not making a statement on an incident of security breach in Parliament.

"Have they boycotted the House? This is a serious issue. He (Modi) is speaking in Varanasi and Ahmedabad. You can speak outside (but not here). When Parliament is running, they should not make any major statements outside," Kharge said.

"They are shredding the rules.... Only when those suspended return to the House, Shah makes a statement and the prime minister makes a statement that we can say that they are working democratically. They are making a historic mistake. It will be part of history that they suspended nearly 150 MPs and ran the House in a one-sided manner," he added.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said it is a sad day for the country when people holding constitutional positions talk about their castes.

The government is trying to wash its hands off the matter of Parliament's security breach by raking up such an issue, he alleged.

Should everyone now move around wearing a label declaring their caste, Chowdhury asked.

A political row broke out on Tuesday after Trinamool Congress leader Kalyan Banerjee derisively mimicked Dhankhar during the opposition's protest on the stairs of Parliament against the MPs' suspension, drawing strong condemnation from the BJP.

Kharge asked if the government should also not apologise for Modi and Shah not speaking on the issue of Parliament's security breach in the two Houses, but referring to it outside.


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