Row in Rajya Sabha over DK Suresh's remarks

The Treasury and Opposition benches sparred in the Rajya Sabha on Friday over the controversial remarks made by DK Suresh, Bengaluru Rural MP and brother of Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister DK Sivakumar, that the southern states may have to demand a separate nation if the “injustice” of giving taxes collected from this region to the northern states is not stopped. Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge insisted his party does not concur with such views, and then led a walkout by Congress and other parties on this issue and the political developments in Jharkhand.

Minutes after the House met for the day, Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar called upon Leader of the House Piyush Goyal – who had requested that he wished to raise an urgent issue – to express his views. Goyal alleged that the Congress MP had broken the oath taken by all lawmakers to “bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India” and to “uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India”. He said the utterances by DK Suresh cannot be dismissed as a minor incident.

“This is divisive thought; this thinking of breaking the nation…. Do they want to divide the nation into North and South… The country will not forgive this. I condemn this and demand an apology,” Goyal said, adding that Congress should clarify if this is the official stand of the party.

Kharge countered this with the argument that since Suresh is a member of the Lok Sabha, the matter should be dealt with by the concerned House. Such a matter cannot be raised in the other House, he claimed.

However, the Chairman asserted this argument does not hold water and cited his own ruling in the case involving Rahul Gandhi‘s remarks and emphasised that any contrary words spoken against the oath by the members are not acceptable.

Dhankhar read out his ruling given on April 5, 2023 in which he had referred to similar objections raised by Kharge that remarks made by Rahul Gandhi during a foreign tour on the functioning of Parliament cannot be discussed in the Rajya Sabha as the latter is a member of the Lower House. Gandhi’s remarks were deemed as “tarnishing and tainting” Indian Parliament.

On Friday, Dhankhar said he had then cited rules and taken the decision that Rahul Gandhi’s remarks can be discussed in the Rajya Sabha and now the same precedent shall apply here. He asked Goyal to put the recording of Suresh’s remarks on the table of the House.

Kharge clarified that Suresh’s words were not the views of his party. “I won’t accept anybody who talks about breaking the country, whether that person is from my party or any other,” the Congress president said.

He stated that Congress members have sacrificed their lives for the country while no ruling party member has such credentials. He referred to Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi and said they laid down their lives for the nation.

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