A BJP MLA in Bihar was on Tuesday suspended for two days on account of unruly behaviour, triggering protests from his party colleagues who staged a walkout though the government praised Speaker Awadh Bihari Chaudhary for setting a “good precedent”.
As Chaudhary announced the suspension of Lakhendra Raushan, the latter rose in his seat in protest, claiming that he had “not vandalised the microphone”, which he was being held guilty of, and claimed that the device “was defective and came off on its own”.
“I was taking part in the proceedings. It was my turn to speak during the Question Hour and the microphone was not working properly. I tried to adjust it but it was defective and came off on its own”, Raushan screamed, recalling the incident that had taken place in the pre-lunch session.
He added, “Satya Dev Ram (CPI-ML Liberation MLA) used abusive language against me. Still I am being held guilty of misconduct. A Dalit legislator must not be harassed in this fashion”.
Bedlam erupted in the House for a few minutes and continued till all BJP members staged a walkout in protest.
The Speaker's action followed a statement by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary who deplored the “undemocratic and unparliamentary behaviour of the member, whatever might have been the provocation”, and sought an apology from Raushan.
However, the Leader of the Opposition sought to adopt a combative stance as he told the House “both sides are equally responsible for what happened. Our MLAs were provoked by the ruling side. If there has to be an apology, it must be from both sides”.
Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav rose in his seat and said “BJP members are in the habit of lying. They lied inside the House that migrant workers were being attacked in Tamil Nadu. Now they are lying again, accusing even the Chair of being partisan”.
After the Speaker announced the suspension of Raushan, Vijay Kumar Chaudhary rose again and said the step taken by the Chair has set a good precedent. Decorum must be maintained inside the House”.
Trouble had erupted with nearly ten minutes left of the Question Hour, which continues till noon when Raushan was asking a starred question and the minister concerned was furnishing the government's reply.
Satya Dev Ram, whose party supports the Nitish Kumar government in the state from outside, told reporters outside the assembly “the Speaker had called out the name of another member when Raushan tore away the microphone in irritation. I merely stood up to point out the unruly behaviour. Contrary to his claim, it was he who hurled abuses towards me.
“CCTV camera footage can be examined. It will be clear that the provocation was from their (BJP) side. They were the first to use foul language. Members of my party and alliance partners only reacted”.
State minister Kumar Sarvajeet, a Dalit himself, while talking to journalists lambasted Raushan for playing the victim card and pointed out that Ram, too, was “not a Brahmin”.
After the exchange between Raushan and Ram, the House had plunged into turmoil with members of both sides trooping into the well, menacingly close to each other, following which marshals were called to thwart a physical clash.
Kumar Sarvajeet alleged, “all limits were crossed today. Abusive language was used (by BJP members) and some of them stood close to the Chair and spoke to the Speaker in a threatening tone”.
“It is hardly surprising that they were being egged on by Leader of the Opposition Vijay Kumar Sinha, who as a Speaker had been notorious for riding roughshod over those politically opposed to his party”, alleged Sarvajeet, who belongs to the RJD.
However, Sinha, who also spoke to journalists, alleged “the Chair has been unfair towards the opposition, putting hurdles in its way whenever it seeks to raise issues of the people. We cannot be mute spectators. The ruling side also behaved irresponsibly. It shared the onus of ensuring that the proceedings ran smoothly”.