M A I N   N E W S

Showdown in Lok Sabha
Brazen display of muscle and lung power
*Speaker warns MPs, adjourns House twice
T. R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 24
The country’s highest legislature was witness to unprecedented scenes when RJD and JD(U) members virtually came to blows in the Lok Sabha today, necessitating two adjournments and the target of the attack, Prabhunath Singh, tendering his resignation to Speaker Somnath Chatterjee.

In the afternoon, a highly upset Mr Chatterjee condemned the incidents in the House and warned of the “strongest possible” action, should it recur. He assured anxious members that everyone will be protected.

Members from all sides were shocked that the lawmakers themselves sought to brazenly use their muscle and lung power in the spectacle of political oneupmanship. Had it not been for the timely intervention of a BJP member who jumped between a highly charged Sadhu Yadav of the RJD and Prabhunath Singh of the JD (U), the matter could have got out of hand.

The outdrawn fist of Sadhu Yadav, brother-in-law of Union Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, was blocked barely at hand-shaking distance from Prabhunath Singh.

The fury of the RJD members was sparked during zero hour when Prabhunath Singh charged the Congress-led UPA government with interfering in Bihar and alleged that a relative of Mr Lalu Prasad was involved in a rape case.

This was provocation enough for backbencher Sadhu Yadav when he along with some of his colleagues rushed to cross the floor, knocking down Telengana Rashtra Samiti’s A Narendra who was seeking to raise his party’s issue of statehood for Telengana.

Had it not been for BJP’s Brijbhushan Singh, Prabhunath Singh might have been at the receiving end. Tension continued for some time when the MPs of the RJD and the JD (U) came close to indulging in physical violence.

Even those who tried to cool frayed tempers were not spared as evidenced in the case of BJP’s M. A. K. Swain. When RJD’s Rabindra Rana threw the sound box on the parliamentary reporters table towards Swain, it fell short and brushed his stomach. Later, Swain acknowledged he found the incidents very scary and wondered if they needed to come with bodyguards to the Lok Sabha or the Speaker could ensure the safety and security of members.

Lalu Prasad who was present in the House was seen shouting at Prabhunth Singh. The RJD members were also heard being critical of the Speaker for allowing the JD (U) member to raise such an issue.

Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister P. R. Dasmunshi tried to pacify the RJD and JD (U) members and had a tough time trying to ward off any untoward incident.

With all his pleadings falling on deaf ears, a frustrated Speaker adjourned the House till 2 pm and when it reassembled, Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal promptly adjourned again till 3 pm as the all-party meeting was on in the Speaker’s chamber to resolve the impasse.

When peace was restored in the afternoon, Lalu Prasad apologised. At the same time, he did not mince words in saying that no member or minister will remain a silent spectator if he was subjected to invectives.

In his response, Prabhunath Singh stressed he had not said anything unparliamentary against anyone as the records will show. He observed that from the incidents of the day he felt he was not fit to be a member of the Lok Sabha and immediately handed over his handwritten resignation to the Speaker and walked out.

Mr Chatterjee was confident that he would be able to persuade Prabhunath Singh not to press his resignation.

Meanwhile, taken aback by the developments, Leader of the House and Union Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee rushed in. Prior to that, a stunned watch and ward staff had cordoned off the well to ensure order.

Even as the BJP described the unsavoury incident inside the Lok Sabha as “shameful” and demanded strong action against those found guilty, the CPI deplored the fracas observing that the dignity of Parliament had plummeted rock bottom.




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