Duel over Adhir calling PM ‘infiltrator‘, FM ‘Nirbala‘

Bharatiya Janata Party ministers and members on Monday protested in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha against Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury‘s remarks calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah ‘infiltrators‘ and demanded that he apologise, saying they will not tolerate such an ‘insult‘.

Members of treasury benches were on their feet in Lok Sabha as Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi attacked the Leader of the Congress in the House and then took a swipe at the party over its President Sonia Gandhi‘s foreign origin.

Joshi said the Congress is ‘led by an infiltrator‘ and is targeting Modi who hails from a humble family and is a popular leader.

 

Chowdhury, who had made the infiltrator barb at the BJP bigwigs while speaking on the contentious National Register of Citizens issue, sought to explain his remarks and said he will apologise if the BJP is not satisfied.

He used the opportunity to underline his opposition to the NRC, saying his family had come from Bangladesh.

“We do not have many documents so if somebody calls (us) an infiltrator, we cannot do much,” he said.

However, BJP members continued their protests, forcing Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to adjourn the House.

Joshi said the Congress leader‘s remarks were an ‘outright insult‘ to people who had given Modi a solid mandate in the recent Lok Sabha elections and showed that the opposition party is still not able to come to terms with its defeat.

The minister said India‘s prestige has enhanced in the world under Modi‘s leadership and such an insult to him and Shah cannot be tolerated.

“You will have to apologise,” Joshi‘s deputy Arjun Ram Meghwal said.

Joshi asked if Chowdhury can be called an infiltrator because he is from West Bengal.

BJP members also accused Chowdhury of running a ‘syndicate‘ in West Bengal for helping Bangladeshi infiltrators become Indian citizens.

The issue again cropped up after the after the House assembled at 2.15 pm with the BJP members continuing their protest.

Ruling BJP‘s Nishikant Dubey asked the government to find out if Chowdhury was a citizen of India or an outsider.

Observing that Congress itself was led by a foreigner, Sanjay Jaiswal (BJP) said that Chowdhury should apologies.

Rama Devi (BJP), who was in the chair, also asked Chowdhury to apologise for his comments against the prime minister and the home minister.

After the ruckus subsided, the House took up discussion on the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill.

BJP members also created uproar in Rajya Sabha over the issue. When the Upper House assembled after lunch, BJP member Bhupender Yadav raised a point of order and sought to condemn the Congress leader‘s remarks.

This was opposed by Congress‘s Digvijay Singh and others.

“This is not only the issue of this House or of that House”, this is a matter of dignity, Yadav said.

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“Does any leader of a party have the right to use words such as ‘infiltrators‘. Are we not insulting parliamentary democracy of this country by using such words,” he said.

Several BJP members left their seats to protest Chowdhury‘s comments.

On Sunday, Chowdhury had termed Modi and Shah as ‘infiltrators‘ in Delhi.

He said they are migrants since they have their homes in Gujarat but are now living in Delhi.

BJP member Yadav said, “Article 19 of our Constitution has given the right of expression to everyone but this right has some reasonable restrictions also.”

The Upper House has earlier condemned such issues which were against the dignity of Parliament, according to Yadav.

Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh said he would look into the issue.

“We would examine it,” he said.

On his assurance, agitating BJP members returned to their seats and a debate on a bill to ban the use and sale of e-cigarette started.

Chowdhury‘s jibe at Nirmala draws sharp protests

Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Monday took a swipe at Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman by calling her ‘Nirbala‘, which immediately drew protest from BJP members in the House.

Participating in the discussion on the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, Chowdhury suggested that the finance minister has become weak and called her ‘Nirbala Sitharaman‘.

As the BJP members protested against his comment, Speaker Om Birla ruled that any unparliamentary remark would be removed from the records.

During her reply, Sitharaman did not directly refer to Chowdhury‘s comment but concluded her speech by saying she still is Nirmala and ‘sabla‘ (empowered).

“Under this government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, women are sablas,” she said.

Chowdhury had also attacked the government during the debate, saying the ruling National Democratic Alliance can also be called the ‘Non-Delivery Agency‘ as it only makes promises.

Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur demanded that Chowdhury apologise and withdraw his remark against Sitharaman.

“You are raising question marks on her capability… She is here due to her merit,” he said, adding that such remarks are disrespectful to women.

Chowdhury refused to withdraw his remark but said, “You can remove it from proceedings, if you wish.”

He sought to defend himself saying he had said the finance minister did not have the freedom to work freely, therefore, “I wonder whether you are Nirmala or Nirbala.”

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal said instead of apologising, Chowdhury was defending his remark which was not right.

Seeking to calm the agitated members, Speaker Birla said unparliamentary comments from opposition as well as the treasury benches would be removed from the records.

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