NEW DELHI: The BJP took on the opposition, especially the Congress, over the issue of unparliamentary words on Thursday and said it is trying to create an issue where none exists.
Opposition parties have slammed the government, saying the new list of unparliamentary words is meant to gag the criticism of the Centre's functioning.
Citing Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla's remarks over the issue, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Sambit Patra said the speaker has presented the facts and cleared all illusions created by the opposition.
The speaker has clearly stated that no word has been banned and that certain words would be expunged on the basis of its context, he pointed out.
Hitting out at the opposition, Patra said several political parties, including Congress, are trying to mislead the country and creating an issue where none exists.
The opposition on Thursday went straight for the government's jugular over the "gag order" on using certain words in Parliament, insisting indignantly every expression used by them to describe how the BJP was destroying India has now been declared unparliamentary.
The clamour forced Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to step in to soothe frayed tempers by making it clear no word has been banned from use in Parliament but will be expunged on a contextual basis.
Members are free to express their views while maintaining decorum of the House, he said.
The opposition was brimming with anger after a new booklet by the Lok Sabha Secretariat said on Wednesday the use of terms like 'jumlajeevi', 'baal buddhi', 'Covid spreader', 'Snoopgate' and even commonly used words like 'ashamed', 'abused, 'betrayed', 'corrupt', 'drama', 'hypocrisy' and 'incompetent' will henceforth be considered unparliamentary in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi derisively termed the compilation the "New Dictionary for New India".
"Words used in discussion and debates which correctly describe the PM's handling of the government, now banned from being spoken."
"Example of an unparliamentary sentence: 'Jumlajeevi Tanashah shed Crocodile Tears when his lies and incompetence were exposed'," he said.
An angry Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said, "All words used by the Opposition to describe the reality of Modi Sarkar now to be considered 'unparliamentary'. What next Vishguru".
Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien showed even greater belligerence, declaring he will use those words and dared the government to act against him.
"Session begins in a few days. GAG ORDER ISSUED ON MPs."
"Now, we will not be allowed to use these basic words while delivering a speech in #Parliament : Ashamed. Abused. Betrayed. Corrupt. Hypocrisy. Incompetent. I will use all these words. Suspend me. Fighting for democracy," the TMC leader said.
As the political temperature soared, Speaker Om Birla hastened to address the issue.
"No word has been banned. Members are free to express their views. No one can snatch that right, but it should be as per decorum of Parliament," Birla told reporters.
The Speaker rejected the criticism that the BJP-led government at the Centre was behind the selection of 'unparliamentary' words and asserted that legislatures are independent of any government and the executive cannot give instructions to Parliament.
"It is a routine practice continuing since 1954," he said referring to the release of the booklet that lists words and expressions deemed unparliamentary.
The Speaker's clarification, however, failed to cut ice with Congress.
"Clarification from @ombirlakota about 'unparliamentary' words doesn't mean much. In all discussions, media seems to have overlooked that they can't report on these comments in their dispatches. Also, print media will have to think twice before using these words in their articles," Jairam Ramesh said in a tweet.
Birla said words chosen for expunging have been used by members of the ruling party as well as the opposition.
Several words and expressions, even those used commonly, get routinely expunged during legislative proceedings if a member protests and the presiding officer finds them inapt in a particular context.
Taking on those who have been criticising the booklet, Birla said they should have read the 1100-page dictionary comprising unparliamentary words.
Had they read it they would not have spread misconception.
The Lok Sabha Secretariat's list of unparliamentary words also says some terms may not be deemed unparliamentary unless read in conjunction with the other expressions spoken during the parliamentary proceedings.
The booklet says any aspersions made against the Chair in both the houses, in any language, shall be considered unparliamentary and expunged from the records of Parliament.
Some officials also sought to smooth ruffled feathers, saying "it is not a suggestion or order", as these terms have been already expunged by presiding officers of Parliament and state legislatures.
They said the words were considered unparliamentary even when the Congress-led UPA was in power.
Sources in Parliament said 62 new words have been added to the list during the last year and some of these may be under review.
Government sources said the list is not a new suggestion, but merely a compilation of words already expunged in the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha or state legislatures.
It also contains words considered unparliamentary in parliaments of the Commonwealth countries, they said.
"If certain words are found objectionable and not in consonance with decorum and dignity of Parliament, it is under the jurisdiction of the Chair of either houses to expunge those words," a Lok Sabha source said.
Government sources pointed out the word 'abused' was considered unparliamentary in the House of Representatives of Australia, while 'childishness' was frowned upon in Qubec's National Assembly.
They said the phrases 'lollipops in the budget' and 'you have reached here telling a lie' were expunged from the proceedings of the Punjab Assembly.
Even a word as harmless as 'asatya' (untruth) was expunged from the records of the Rajasthan assembly in 2021.