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TMC's Kalyan Banerjee Reacts to Row Over Dhankhar's Mimicry, RS Chairman Says 'Insult Me But...'

A massive political row erupted on Tuesday after a TMC MP was seen mimicking Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar, which was being filmed by Congress's Rahul Gandhi

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TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee was seen doing and Rahul Gandhi was seen filming mimicry of Dhankhar
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Amid the row over Trinamool Congress MP Kalyan Banerjee's mimicry of Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dialled the latter over the "abject theatrics" of the lawmaker. In a bid to clarify, TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee today said he did not intend to hurt Rajya Sabha chairman, adding that even PM Modi did mimicry in Lok Sabha. 

Vice President's office said on Wednesday that PM Modi dialled Dhankhar and expressed great pain over the "abject theatrics" of some MPs in Parliament complex.

"Received a telephone call from the Prime Minister, Shri @narendramodi Ji. He expressed great pain over the abject theatrics of some Honourable MPs and that too in the sacred Parliament complex yesterday,” the Vice President’s Secretariat said.

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"He told me that he has been at the receiving end of such insults for twenty years and counting but the fact that it could happen to a Constitutional office like the Vice President and that too in Parliament was unfortunate,” Dhankhar was quoted as saying on microblogging platform X.

Meanwhile, to show solidarity with Jagdeep Dhankhar, MPs of BJP-led NDA will stand for an hour in Rajya Sabha today over the mimickry issue.  

What Happened Yesterday

The entire political row was triggered on Tuesday after Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Kalyan Banerjee derisively mimicked Dhankhar during the Opposition's protest on the stairs of Parliament against the suspension of the members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

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What irked BJP more was Congress leader Rahul Gandhi making a video of the performance by Banerjee who appeared to mimic the way Dhankhar walked by leaning forward and made reference to having a spine.

WATCH HERE

On knowing of his mimicry, Jagdeep Dhankhar later lashed out on the MPs in Rajya Sabha, saying he was personally hurt as his farmer and Jat backgrounds were targeted.

"Imagine what must be going through my heart when your senior leader videographs a Member of Parliament mocking the institution of the chairman," Dhankhar said in Rajya Sabha.

On Wednesday also, when the House met at 11.45 am after the third adjournment, Dhankhar expressed his anguish over Tuesday's incident and asked the Congress party, including Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge, to ponder over it. "I am not bothered if anyone insults Jagdeep Dhankhar but I cannot bear that I could not protect the honour of my post. It is my duty to protect the honour of the House", Dhankhar said.

"You cannot imagine what has happened. Such a big incident took place. The post was disrespected. The farmers' community was insulted. My community was insulted, and you are silent," Dhankhar said before adjourning the House proceedings again for about 15 minutes.

"...You used Twitter, the official handle of the spokesperson, to demean me, insult me, insult my background as a farmer, insult my position as a Jat, insult my position as chairman," Dhankhar had said addressing Congress member P Chidambaram in Rajya Sabha.

What TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee Said in Clarification

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Addressing the controversy over him mimicking the Vice President, TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee today said, "does he really behave like this in Rajya Sabha?"

I have never intended to hurt anyone. Dhankhar saab is also in my profession, he is also a senior advocate, I am also a senior advocate. In our profession we never intend to hurt anyone. But if he is hurt then... i do not know why he is taking it on his shoulder," Kalyan Banerjee said.

"I have great respect for Dhankhar ji. Firstly, he belongs to my profession, secondly he was an ex governor, thirdly he is the vice president and RS chairman... I do not want to hurt anyone," Banerjee said.

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Banerjee went ahead and said mimicry is one type of an "art", adding that it has also been done by PM Modi in the Lok Sabha itself in 2014-19.

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What Dhankhar Told PM Modi Today

Vice President and Rajya Sabha chairperson Jagdeep Dhankhar told the prime minister today that such incidents will not deter him from doing his duty.

“I told him- Mr. Prime Minister, the antics of a few won’t prevent me from performing my duty and upholding the principles enshrined in our Constitution. I am committed to those values from the bottom of my heart. None of the insults will make me change my path,” Dhankhar said.

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Rahul Gandhi was also asked today for his take on the mimicry episode. Rahul Gandhi said there is a discussion on mimicry, however, nobody said anything on other key issues like suspension of MPs, Adani, Rafale issues etc.

"...MPs were sitting there, I shot their video. My video is on my phone. Media is showing it...Nobody has said anything...150 of our MPs have been thrown out [of the House] but there is no discussion on that in the media. There is no discussion on Adani, no discussion on Rafale, no discussion on unemployment. Our MPs are disheartened and sitting outside. But you are discussing that [mimicry]...," Rahul Gandhi said.

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Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla also met Vice President and Chairman, Rajya Sabha, Jagdeep Dhankar today to convey his "deep concerns and anguish about serious misdemeanor by MPs in Parliament complex demeaning and denigrating the constitutional office of Vice President," Lok Sabha Speaker's office said.

Why Are MPs Protesting

In an unprecedented suspension spree in Parliament, a total 141 members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, all from opposition parties, have been suspended in a span of two days in the ongoing Winter Session. While on Tuesday 78 opposition members of Parliament were suspended, another set of 49 MPs were sacked from Lok Sabha on Tuesday, taking the total tally to 141, which also includes 14 suspensions from last week.

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On Tuesday, as many as 33 members were suspended from the Lok Sabha, followed by the Rajya Sabha where 45 leaders were handed suspension after Opposition refused to budge on their demand for a statement from Home Minister Amit Shah over the breach incident in Parliament security that took place on December 13.

On December 13, two protesters jumped into the lower house chamber and opened smoke cans when proceedings were on.

Congress on Tuesday said it is truly ironical that the BJP MP "who helped the two intruders" gain entry to the Lok Sabha on December 13 continues to be an MP, while INDIA bloc MPs demanding a statement from Home Minister Amit Shah over the issue have been suspended from Parliament.

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The suspension of 78 opposition MPs sparked massive outrage from the Congress and other parties that accused the BJP government of trying to bulldoze key legislations in an "Opposition-less" Parliament.

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