Rahul Gandhi disrupts debate

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IOL pic aug6 india rahul sonia gandhi Associated Press Rahul Gandhi and his mother, Sonia, arrive to attend a Congress Party meeting in New Delhi, India. File picture: Saurabh Das

New Delhi -

Rahul Gandhi, heir to the political dynasty that ruled India for decades, disrupted proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday, storming an area near the speaker's chair and demanding a debate on communal violence in the country.

The move appeared to be an attempt by Gandhi to use his party's newfound role in the opposition to rail against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which swept his family's Congress party from power in recent elections.

Gandhi and other members of his party stormed the well of the lower house, an area around the speaker's chair that is out of bounds for lawmakers, after their demand for an immediate debate and suspension of other business was rejected by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. They shouted slogans, including “we want justice”.

Mahajan ordered them to go back to their seats and adjourned the house. When the session resumed 40 minutes later, she allowed the Congress party to raise the issue of communal violence.

Mahajan told the house that a debate on the issue would likely take place on Friday.

Gandhi has rarely spoken in Parliament since his party was voted out of power in May.

Speaking to reporters later, he criticised the speaker and said: “We are not being allowed to speak in Parliament. There is a mentality in the government that discussion is not acceptable.”

Gandhi and his party colleagues did not cite any particular incident of communal violence in the country, but they likely were referring to recent Muslim-Sikh and Hindu-Muslim clashes in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

M. Venkaiah Naidu, the parliamentary affairs minister, condemned the Congress party for obstructing the house proceedings and accusing the speaker of partisan behaviour. - Sapa-AP

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