National

Ruckus in Parliament over Sena MPs force-feeding fasting Muslim supervisor

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 25, 2017

Food rage The restaurant at New Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi, which has been temporarily closed. MONICA TIWARI

BJP leaders insist the facts are yet to be verified

The Opposition made loud protests in both Houses on Wednesday over a report alleging that 11 Shiv Sena MPs had force-fed a chapaati to a catering supervisor at Maharashtra Sadan here. The supervisor, Arshad, who was observing the Roza fast for Ramadan, is an employee of the IRCTC.

The Shiv Sena MPs were upset by the food arrangements at the Sadan, which has a catering contract with the IRCTC. Some TV channels aired footage of the incident, purportedly showing a Shiv Sena MP forcing food down a man’s throat.

In the Lok Sabha, Congress, NCP, Trinamool, CPI(M), AAP, RJD, People’s Democratic Party and AIMIM members rose in protest, demanding a discussion on the issue. “It is a sensitive issue and sentiments have been hurt,” said Congress leader in the House, Mallikarjun Kharge.

But Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu insisted that “nobody knows the facts of the said incident.”

In the Rajya Sabha, too, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Prakash Javadekar said: “It is an unsubstantiated report. We should not take it to the next level. Let it be ascertained. There are sensitivities involved.”

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said she would allow the issue to be raised only after Question Hour.

As soon as Zero Hour began, Congress MP from Kerala Shanavas termed the incident as “shocking” and said it “cut at the roots of secularism”. “MPs who should be role models have become bad models...The faith of minorities has been tarnished. The House should condemn it,” he said amid frequent interruptions by Shiv Sena MPs.

Later, when the Shiv Sena’s Anant Geete defended his MPs and said “False statements should not be made in the House”, several Opposition members, such as Jyotiraditya Scindia (Congress), Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM) and Pappu Yadav (RJD), stood up to protest against the use of ‘unparliamentary” words.

Flexing muscles

While the protest was going on, BJP MP from South Delhi Ramesh Bidhuri ran towards the well, flexing his muscles at some Opposition MPs.

He was stopped by some of his party colleagues, such as Kirit Somaiya, but by then there was a huge uproar, leading to a brief adjournment.

Later, some BJP MPs were seen congratulating Bidhuri, while Health Minister Harsh Vardhan was seen asking him to restrain himself. When the House re-assembled, Venkaiah Naidu expressed his disapproval of Bidhuri’s conduct. He said it was a sensitive incident, though not verified as yet.

“But I do not approve of the conduct of one of my members,” he said. Bidhuri later apologised to the House, but Kharge insisted that the matter be referred to the Ethics Committee of Parliament.

PM Narendra Modi was present when the matter was raised but left later, while Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptullah was not present in the House.

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Published on July 23, 2014
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