Outrage as BJP’s South Delhi MP hurls religious slurs in Lok Sabha

Sep 23, 2023 12:51 AM IST

BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri sparked controversy by directing religious slurs and hate speech towards BSP MP Danish Ali during a parliamentary session

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of Parliament Ramesh Bidhuri kicked up a massive controversy for targeting fellow Lok Sabha member Danish Ali of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) with religious slurs and phrases that amount to hate speech during the momentous session in the new Parliament building this week.

BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri speaks in the Lok Sabha during a special session of Parliament, in New Delhi on Sept. 21(PTI)
BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri speaks in the Lok Sabha during a special session of Parliament, in New Delhi on Sept. 21(PTI)

The video of the abusive attack, which took place during a discussion on the success of Chandrayaan-3 on Thursday, went viral on Friday and provoked outrage from other parliamentarians, some of whom — including Ali — sought action over breach of parliamentary privilege.

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The remarks were expunged by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, who also issued a stern warning to Bidhuri, saying “any recurrence of such behaviour in future” will lead to strict action. But other leaders said that this action was inadequate and warranted a suspension at the very least.

The BJP issued a show-cause notice to Bidhuri to explain his conduct within 10 days, and in a statement issued later (which did not name Bidhuri) said it had taken immediate action.

In the video from the House, Bidhuri — the MP from South Delhi — was seen and heard using derogatory words that were repeated in tweets by Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah as they hit out at the BJP parliamentarian, and by BSP’s Ali in a letter of complaint to the Speaker.

During the outburst, former Union minister Harsh Vardhan was seen laughing while sitting next to Bidhuri.

In a post on X, Moitra demanded that Bidhuri be made an example of. “BJP MP @rameshbidhuri calling MP Danish Ali a ‘Bharwa’ (pimp), ‘Katwa’ (circumcised), ‘Mullah Atankwadi’ & ‘Mullah Ugrawadi’ (Muslim terrorist) ON RECORD in Lok Sabha last night,” she wrote, tagging Birla, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and BJP chief JP Nadda.

Her post was made before the remarks were expunged.

Ali, who was subjected to the religious rants, filed a complaint against Bidhuri. In his letter to the Speaker, Ali wrote: “During the course of his speech he directed the most foul, abusive invectives against me which are part of the record of the Lok Sabha... This is most unfortunate and the fact that it has happened in a new parliament building under your leadership as Speaker is truly heartbreaking for me as a minority member of this great nation and an elected Member of Parliament as well. I therefore intend to give this notice under rule 222, 226, 227 of the rules of procedure and conduct of business in Lok Sabha and direction of Speaker against Ramesh Bidhuri, MP.”

These rules pertain to a breach of privilege against a member.

“When this is the condition of an elected member like me then what will be the condition of a normal person? I hope, I will get justice, Speaker will conduct an enquiry or else with a heavy heart, I’m also thinking of leaving this Parliament because this can’t be tolerated. Now let’s see if BJP takes any action against Ramesh Bidhuri or if he will be promoted and included in the central cabinet of ministers... maybe it has become a competition among BJP leaders to make such statements not just outside but even inside the Parliament,” Ali said later.

Former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Abdullah referred to a report saying Birla has warned Bidhuri of “strict action” if such behaviour is repeated. “Opposition MPs have been suspended for trivial offences & here outright abuse is condoned,” he wrote in the post.

Abdullah repeated the words Bidhuri used,and said how easily expletives rolled off the BJP MP’s tongue. “Hate against Muslims has been mainstreamed like never before. How do Muslims who identify the BJP as their party coexist alongside this level of abject hatred?”

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said the conduct was simply not acceptable. “It is a half-hearted apology, an afterthought. What [Ramesh] Bidhuri has said is an insult to the Parliament.” Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury too wrote to Birla, saying “never in the history of Parliament have such words been used against a MP of a minority community”.

Chowdhury demanded the matter be examined in detail by the privileges committee. “Expunging the remarks from the records of the House has no meaningful impact. Considering the circumstances and the brazen violation of all norms and rules relating to the functioning of the House, it would only be appropriate to have the matter examined in detail by the Privileges Committee and punitive action taken against the errant Member, Ramesh Bidhuri.”

Congress’ leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, TMC’s Aparupa Poddar, DMK’s Kanimozhi and NCP leader Supriya Sule wrote to Birla and demanded that the matter be sent to the privileges committee.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi later posted a photo with Ali, with the caption: “Nafrat ke bazar mein mohabbat ki dukaan” (in a market of hate, a shop for love).

From the BJP, defence minister Rajnath Singh expressed regret over Bidhuri’s statements. “I express regret if the opposition is hurt by the remarks made by the MP,” he said in the House on Thursday.

The BJP sent a notice through Om Pathak, the secretary of the its disciplinary committee. “The show-cause notice says he has used unparliamentary language that is unbecoming of a BJP member as it violates well-established culture, decorum and direction of the party,” a person aware of the contents of the letter said, asking not to be named.

“Bharatiya Janata Party strongly condemns the use of any kind of abusive language. Taking immediate cognizance of the indecent remarks made by a BJP MP in the House, the party’s national president JP Nadda issued a show cause notice to that MP…,” said BJP’s national spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi.

“BJP takes immediate action but we want to ask the parties involved in the arrogant Indi alliance, what action have they taken so far against those who abuse the country’s successful Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he added.

According to a BJP functionary the statements have “upset” the high command. The leader, who asked not to be named, said the party leadership has taken a serious view of the transgression by the MP on the floor of the House. “The party leadership is very clear that any kind of unparliamentary behaviour even with the political opponents will not be condoned. It is a standing instruction to all our members to be careful with the choice of words,” the leader said.

A second leader, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said Bidhuri’s comments have come at a time when the party and the government were celebrating the passage of the much-awaited women’s reservation bill, a landmark legislation that reserves 33% of seats in the Lok Sabha and legislative assemblies for women.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ministers drew attention to the positive steps taken by the government for the benefit of all communities, particularly Muslim women by banning Triple Talaq. His statements upend the work that is being done by the government,” the second leader said.

The episode, which threatens to cast a shadow over the BJP’s minority outreach, is not the first instance of action by the BJP against a party leader for using uncivil words on a public platform.

In June last year, the party suspended spokespersons Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal for their inappropriate comments on Prophet Muhammad. The issue had snowballed into a diplomatic row as several Muslim countries such as Indonesia, the UAE, the Maldives, Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iran and Oman among others objected to the statements.

Later in October, the party distanced itself from comments made by MP from West Delhi, Parvesh Verma, who spoke about an economic boycott of a certain community without naming them.

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    Smriti covers an intersection of politics and governance. Having spent over a decade in journalism, she combines old fashioned leg work with modern story telling tools.


    Saubhadra Chatterji is Deputy Political Editor at the Hindustan Times. He writes on both politics and policies.

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