The ruckus in Parliament over the contentious farm bills is likely to be a poll issue in the Bihar elections. If the opposition accuses the BJP-led government of going against the farmers, the ruling party will raise the issue of disrespect to Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh, who is also a JD(U) MP.
As the war of words escalated between the BJP and the Congress, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the opposition has humiliated the deputy chairperson.
“He is not only a deputy chairperson, but also a big public intellectual, and eminent editor. He has added to India's pride in several international fora.
“I understand the sentiment of the people of my state, Bihar. Harivansh ji comes from the same village as anti-corruption crusader J.P. Narayan. The Congress and the RJD were encouraging the protesting MPs. The people of Bihar will answer. This will not be allowed, that an eminent person be humiliated,” Prasad said in a press conference.
He added that though they will not make it a political issue, the opposition parties will have to answer in Bihar as to how the son of the state was disrespected.
“The way Congress and RJD were silent and even encouraged the protesting MPs in the Rajya Sabha, this will be told to the people of the state. Both Congress and RJD will have to answer,” Prasad said.
Other NDA leaders from Bihar, too, attacked the Congress and RJD combine for disrespecting Harivansh. Deputy CM Sushil Modi hit out at the opposition, while Union Minister Giriraj Singh said the attack on the deputy chairperson was an attack on constitutional values and exhibition of “urban naxalism”.
Prasad, presenting his version of events that unfolded in Parliament, said that the deputy chairman asked the agitating MPs to return to their seats so that he can take a call on their demand of division. But the MPs did not go back. “The deputy chairperson said 13 times to the members to return, but they did not pay heed. Harivansh ji was ready for voting, but they did not go back to their seats.”
He said the government had clear majority with 110 MPs, and only 72 MPs with the opposition. Had there been voting, the government would have won. But they did not want the go for voting, Prasad said.
The minister said documents and rule books were torn, and mikes were uprooted. There is enough visual evidence that if the marshals had not protected him, the deputy chairperson would have been physically assaulted, Prasad said.
The law minister said he has been in Parliament for over 21 years, but has not witnessed such a scene from the MPs. These members who agitated knew all the rules, some of them party leaders, and one was a minister. “It was utter disregard for parliamentary norms.”
The law minister added that the Rajya Sabha chairman suspended eight MPs from the House, but they did not go out.