NEW DELHI: An irate Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Wednesday allowed Opposition members to speak on privilege motions moved by them against HRD Minister Smriti Irani after vociferous protests, which included sloganeering in the well of the House.
Members of the Congress, Left parties as well as the Trinamool Congress protested that though the Speaker had allowed members of the treasury benches to speak, Opposition parties had not been allowed to speak despite their moving the privilege motions two days before. An upset Speaker allowed them to speak, forced by the relentless slogan-shouting. She said slogans were raised against her as well. “You raise slogans against the Speaker... Whatever you have done today is not good,” said an anguished Mahajan as she allowed them to speak. She added that this should not be seen as a precedent. When allowed to speak, the Congress and the Left members accused Irani of using the House to “mislead” the nation with her “totally blatant untruth” during her reply last week on Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide at the University of Hyderabad. Congress member K C Venugopal referred to Irani’s statement that no doctor was allowed near Vemula after his suicide attempt. He cited the subsequent response of the Hyderabad health officials to disprove her.
He also said that a book which Irani claimed had been allowed by then HRD Minister Kapil Sibal was discontinued in 2001, long before he became a minister in the UPA government. CPM member Mohammad Salim said, “What the minister said was totally blatant untruth. Will you allow the House to be used to mislead the nation?” Accusing Irani of referring to her in a “threatening” manner, Congress MP Ranjeet Ranjan said it was her duty to send admission requests for Kendriya Vidyalayas as she was an elected MP and represented the poor in her constituency.