The issue of Dalit unrest in Gujarat rocked Parliament on Wednesday as opposition members accused the government of being anti-Dalit.
Both houses saw protests from opposition parties, even as the Modi government made statements in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha stressing that the Gujarat government took appropriate action to tackle the situation.
While the Rajya Sabha lost the entire day to protests and adjournments, the Lok Sabha witnessed an uproar but the issue did not lead to adjournments.
In the Lok Sabha, the highlight was a video clip that showed Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi dozing off when his party members were protesting against the Home Minister’s response on the Dalit issue.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi, addressing the Congress parliamentary party on Wednesday morning had announced that the party would take up the matter.
In the Rajya Sabha as soon as the house met for the day, opposition members demanded a debate on the issue. Even as Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien was scrutinising the notices, opposition members trooped near the Chairman’s podium raising anti-government slogans.
Clarifications came from Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot who said the Gujarat government has taken action against the culprits.
The minister said an FIR has been registered and a probe was also underway. He also regretted the suicide by a Dalit, who was one of the five who consumed poison during protests in different parts of Gujarat.
The minister added that the issue should not be “politicised”.
Later, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said a discussion on the issue will be taken up on Thursday.
The upper house was finally adjourned for the day around 3.40 pm amid protests.
In the lower house, members, including Congress floor leader Mallikarjun Kharge, tried to raise the issue more than once. However, as Speaker Sumitra Mahajan called for taking up the question hour, opposition members rushed to the well of the house.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, making a statement during zero hour, termed as “unfortunate” the attack on Dalits at Una on July 11.
Condemning the attacks, he said Gujarat Police had acted swiftly and nine people have been arrested so far.
Lauding the role of the BJP government after the incident, he said the state government is also trying to set up a special court for speedy trial of the case.
“But the state needs to take the permission from the high court in this connection,” Singh added.