New Delhi: Samajwadi Party members disrupted both houses of parliament Monday, demanding union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma’s sacking for allegedly saying their party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had “terrorist links”.
Verma’s party Congress also expressed its displeasure over his reported remarks.
In the Lok Sabha, the issue was first raised during zero hour by SP member Shailendra Kumar and party MPs then trooped towards the speaker’s podium, seeking an apology from Verma and his dismissal from the council of ministers over the issue.
Verma contended that he had not made any such statement, and so there was no question of an apology. “Where is the proof that I have said such a thing? I did not link terrorism to any religion,” he said.
SP members, however, remained adamant as Mulayam Singh rose to speak and attacked Verma.
Mulayam Singh said Verma’s comments followed a Muslim convention he had addressed in Lucknow, where several Muslim religious leaders spoke about the contribution of the community in the service of the nation.
The SP chief said he would continue to fight for the cause of minorities. “How can we forget their contributions in national development as also in securing our borders? How can he say that Muslims are terrorists? He should apologise,” he said.
As SP members continued to raise slogans, Verma said: “For me, terrorism has no religion, no colour. The demolition of Babri Masjid and the post-Godhra riots are also terrorist incidents.”
“But he (Mulayam) joined hands with those who demolished Babri Masjid, like Kalyan Singh. His party also helped BJP to win in Gujarat,” he claimed.
In the din, Speaker Meira Kumar directed other members to raise their issues, but later adjourned the house till 2 p.m.
As soon as the house re-assembled at 2 p.m., Samajwadi Party members again rushed towards the speaker’s podium, demanding the dismissal of Verma.
In the Rajya Sabha, the issue was raised when it met after the lunch break at 2 p.m.
The upper house was scheduled to take up a debate on the general budget. However, members from the SP demanded that the Congress offer a clarification on Verma’s statement.
“The Congress must clarify that the statement was Beni Prasad Verma’s own comment and the party does not endorse it,” SP member Naresh Agarwal said.
E.M.S. Natchiappan, who was in the chair, urged the SP members to sit down.
However, the agitated MPs trooped near the chairman’s podium again, shouting slogans and demanding Verma’s resignation.
Amid the din, the upper house was adjourned till 3 p.m. When it met again, it was adjourned for the day after disruptions.
Verma at a rally in Gonda, his constituency in Uttar Pradesh, had alleged that the Samajwadi Party chief had links with terrorists.
“He is a goon and a robber. How will he protect his state? He has links with terrorists,” said Verma, a former Samajwadi Party leader.
The Congress sought to control the damage over Verma’s reported remarks. “Party has taken the matter seriously…There is dignity of language. Everyone should keep this in mind,” Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said.
He said Mulayam Singh was the head of the largest party supporting the government from outside and Verma was a minister in that government.
Talking to reporters, Mulayam Singh demanded that Verma should be sacked from the cabinet.
Verma, however, ruled out his resignation and made light of the demand. “Has he made me the minister?” he asked.