New Delhi: Subramanian Swamy, who triggered huge protests from Congress on Wednesday over his attempts to drag Sonia Gandhi in the AgustaWestland helicopter row, on Thursday again made some controversial remarks in Rajya Sabha which the Chair immediately expunged and warned him of action for “unnecessarily provoking” members on the other side.
Expunging Swamy’s reference to the Constitution of another country that triggered vociferous protests from Congress members, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien also ordered media not to report the remarks.
Trouble broke out after Chaudhary Munavver Saleem (SP) in a Zero Hour mention referred to Swamy being part of the movement in 1970s to protect the minority status of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
Swamy got up to clarify saying he had no objection to minority education institutions but the Constitution prohibits the State from financing them.
He was countered on this by the opposition to which he responded by dragging the name of another country, a reference that led to agitated Congress members rushing into the Well.
Kurien said he was expunging the reference to the Constitution of another country but that did not satisfy the Congress members who continued to shout slogans against Swamy.
The BJP MP, who took oath only on Monday, insisted that since his name has been taken by another member, he has a right to reply and again went on to refer to the country, drawing sharp rebuke from the Chair.
“I will take action against you. Subramanian Swamy you are unnecessarily provoking. I will have to take action against you… you are provoking,” Kurien said.
Observing that what Swamy said would not go on record, he said “what has been expunged should not be reported by media.”
Congress members sought action against Swamy with Jairam Ramesh saying he was “needling and provoking” by bringing in reference to another country. “This is deliberate.”
With Congress members continuing to protest, Kurien asked them to return to their seats and said it was a deliberate attempt to subvert the Zero Hour.
Asked by the Chair what the problem was when the remarks have been expunged, Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said “the problem is the new gift of BJP. Problem is not on this side.”
He said Swamy is just two days old in the House and his remarks have already been expunged twice. “There are 365 days in a year, how many times are you going to expunge his words,” he asked the Chair.
Azad said Swamy does not know the difference between street language and parliamentary words. “He does not allow his hair to grey so he can learn and mature.”
As Kurien asked Congress members resume their seats, they wanted the Chair to ask Swamy to take his seat first. “You cannot direct me like that. You are shouting on nothing. I have expunged (the remarks) then and there. It cannot be reported, it cannot come on TV channels,” Kurien said.
With the protests continuing, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi twice went up to Swamy to convey something.
Kurien then called Naqvi to his chair and spoke to him about the continued pandemonium. Naqvi then went up to Swamy who then resumed his seat. Azad also went up to the agitating party members and prevailed upon them to resume their places.
As Congress members returned to their seats, Swamy was up on his feet again. Kurien asked him to resume his seat. “You sit down now. Come and meet me in Chamber later.”
Earlier soon after new member Navjot Singh Sindhu took oath and listed papers laid, Swamy again tried to raise the VVIP helicopter deal but Congress members shouted him down.
“I am not going to mention that lady’s name,” Swamy said in apparent reference to him yesterday dragging Sonia Gandhi.
When Kurien asked Swamy under what rule was he raising the issue, Swamy said he wanted to raise a matter of public importance under rule 167.
Kurien then told the BJP MP that Rule 167 is for discussion in House, the procedure for which is that once notice is given, the Chairman decides whether to allow a discussion on the matter raised.
If Chairman selects the notice, the member is informed, he said asking Swamy to contact the office of the Chairman on fate of his notice.
Order was then restored and Zero Hour taken up.
Saleem in his Zero Hour mention sought continuation of minority status of AMU and said this should be decided on the floor of Parliament rather than in courts.
Earlier during their protest against Swamy, Congress members shouted ‘CIA Agent’ to counter him while the BJP member shot back chanting ‘ISI, ISI’.
Amid protests from Congress, Kurien said shouting in Well will not produce results.
When Anand Sharma (Cong) asked how Swamy was allowed to speak on a pre-approved Zero Hour mention by another member, Kurien said if a members name is mentioned, he has a right to explain his position.
Azad however said his party had no objection to the clarification but what Swamy said was “totally out of context.” Naqvi countered Azad’s use of words against Swamy, saying “we have been headmasters of the school they (Congress) go to.”
Later in the Zero Hour, when Deputy Chairman P J Kurien asked JD(U) member Pavan Varma to speak on the issue he wished to raise, Naqvi stood up to say that it should have been Swamy’s turn as his name was there on the list.
“His name is there on the list, how can it be changed at the last minute,” Naqvi asked the Chair.
Kurien replied that the list Naqvi was referring to was not the final one.
Not satisfied with the reply, Naqvi said it is not expected that the Chair would discriminate between members and said the BJP member has the right to speak.
Kurien then responded by saying that “ministers should not make such complaints” and added that they should rather find out the factual position. “I know the factual position better,” Kurien added.
However as Naqvi continued to persist, Kurien remained firm and said “if you or Subramanian Swamy have complaints, you can approach the chairman.”
Naqvi said he was just requesting the Chair as Swamy’s name was there in the list.
Kurien responded by saying that there appeared to be a “communication gap” between him and the minister, even as he proceeded to ask JD(U) member Varma to raise his issue.