The recent Islamophobic remarks made by a legislator, Ramesh Bidhuri, from the ruling party on the floor of the Lok Sabha have become a significant focal point for the Opposition in their ongoing battle against the BJP. These comments, uttered on Thursday evening, have elicited widespread condemnation, disgust, and outrage. Consequently, numerous letters have been sent to the Lok Sabha Speaker, urging swift punitive measures against the offending MP.
On Friday, four opposition parties, notably the Congress, DMK, and Trinamool Congress, which collectively command the majority of MPs in the Lok Sabha, submitted letters to Speaker Om Birla. Notably, they all called for the matter concerning Mr. Bidhuri’s conduct and comments to be referred to the Privileges Committee of parliament, with immediate action to be taken against him. The Opposition has highlighted what they perceive as “hypocrisy” by pointing out that Congress’ Leader in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, was suspended for a single insulting remark, whereas no equivalent action has been taken against the BJP MP.
In his letter to the Speaker, Mr. Chowdhury demanded punitive measures against Mr. Bidhuri for his use of “brazenly abusive and unparliamentary language against a member of a prominent political party, Danish Ali, who also happens to be from a minority community.” The letter expressed regret that this incident occurred during a Special Session of Parliament commemorating 75 years of its history and during a discussion on the success of ‘Mission Chandrayaan III.’ Consequently, it is deemed appropriate to thoroughly investigate the matter through the Privileges Committee and take punitive action against the erring Member, Ramesh Bidhuri.
Similar letters were dispatched by DMK leader Kanimozhi, Trinamool MP Aparupa Poddar, and Nationalist Congress Party MP Supriya Sule. All four parties are part of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), and their united response to Mr. Bidhuri’s comments could potentially enhance the cohesion of the bloc.
Rahul Gandhi’s outreach to a member of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Mayawati, whose party remains non-aligned and has criticized both the INDIA bloc and the NDA, has generated political interest.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has also criticized Mr. Bidhuri’s remarks and highlighted the disparate treatment between their suspended MPs, Sanjay Singh and Raghav Chadha, and the lack of action against Mr. Bidhuri.
Mr. Bidhuri’s comments have also drawn condemnation from other political figures, including Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah.
Speaker Om Birla has taken “serious notice” of the communal slurs made by Ramesh Bidhuri and issued a warning of “strict action” in case of any repeat behavior.
In response to the opposition’s outrage, the BJP has issued a show-cause notice to the MP, requiring an explanation of his conduct within 15 days. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh expressed regret in the Lok Sabha, but the Opposition characterized his apology as “half-hearted.”