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Congress lodges formal protest against Om Birla's 'Emergency' remark, calls it 'unnecessary'
Photo courtesy: X/Om Birla

Congress lodges formal protest against Om Birla's 'Emergency' remark, calls it 'unnecessary'

| @@indiablooms | 27 Jun 2024, 09:19 pm

New Delhi/IBNS: Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and senior members of the INDIA bloc met Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla Thursday to formally lodge their protest against his remark in Parliament, where he referred to the "dark days of the Emergency".

The opposition, including the NCP's Supriya Sule Misa Bharati from the RJD, and Kanimozhi of Tamil Nadu's ruling DMK, said Birla's actions were "a very grave matter impacting Parliament's credibility" and expressed "profound concern and anguish over this travesty of parliamentary traditions".

In the meeting, Gandhi reportedly told Birla, who read out a resolution flaying the government at the time (led by the party's Indira Gandhi), that the reference to the Emergency as well as the call for two minutes' silence over it, which triggered howls of protest from the opposition benches, was unnecessary.

"Yesterday, that is June 26, 2024, at the time of offering felicitations on your election as Lok Sabha Speaker, there was general camaraderie in the House... as such occasions generate. However, what followed... reference from the Chair in regard to declaration of Emergency, is deeply shocking."

"Making such a political reference from the Chair is unprecedented in the annals of the history of Parliament. This, coming from the Chair, as one of the first duties of a newly elected Speaker, assumes even greater proportions," a letter addressed to the Speaker, signed by KC Venugopal, said.

"So many things were discussed... about functioning of Parliament. Of course this issue also came up and Rahulji, as Leader of the Opposition, told the Speaker the reference could have been avoided. It was clearly a political reference... it could have been avoided," Venugopal told the media this evening.

What did Om Birla say?

Without naming the Congress Om Birla Monday said:  "On this day then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed an Emergency... and attacked the Constitution. Democratic values and debate have always been supported in India (but)... dictatorship was imposed. Democratic values were crushed and freedom of expression was strangled."

"25th June 1975 will always be known as a black chapter in the history of India."

He even called for two minutes of silence to remember "the determination of all those who opposed the Emergency" and flayed the government at the time.

Birla's comments prompted furious criticisms from opposition MPs, many of whom jumped to their feet to condemn the resolution. The Congress' Shashi Tharoor called it an "unfortunate" message by the Speaker.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded Birla for the resolution and mention of the Emergency in Parliament, posting on X, "I am glad the Speaker strongly condemned the Emergency, highlighted the excesses committed during that time, and also mentioned the manner in which democracy was strangled."

Days earlier the Prime Minister launched a broadside of his own.

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