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'Tainted day': Mallikarjun Kharge, Jagdeep Dhankhar indulge in face-off over NEET discussion
In images Jagdeep Dhankar & Mallikarjun Kharge in Rajya Sabha/ courtesy: Videograbs from X

'Tainted day': Mallikarjun Kharge, Jagdeep Dhankhar indulge in face-off over NEET discussion

| @@indiablooms | 28 Jun 2024, 10:12 pm

New Delhi/IBNS: The government and the opposition's tussle over paper leaks escalated sharply on Friday when the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, walked into the well of the House with others to attract the attention of the Chairman, Jagdeep Dhankhar.

The act, intended to press the opposition's demand for a discussion on the matter, sparked a sharp exchange between the two leaders.

While Dhankhar said he was "shocked and pained" and claimed that a Leader of the Opposition had never walked into the well before, Kharge said he only did so as he was ignored despite raising his hands for 10 minutes.

The Chairman's "step-motherly" behaviour towards the opposition had "tainted the history of the Indian Parliament".

Amid demands for a discussion be held on the paper leaks, including that of NEET-UG- which has affected 24 lakh students- Kharge, who is also the Congress president, trooped into the well of the House with other opposition members, prompting an acerbic attack from Dhankhar.

"Today has become such a tainted day in the history of the Indian Parliament that the Leader of the Opposition has come to the well of the House. This has never happened before. I am pained, I am shocked. The Indian parliamentary tradition will deteriorate to such an extent that the Leader of the Opposition will come to the well, the Deputy Leader will come to the well," Dhankar said before adjourning the Rajya Sabha till 2 pm.

On being asked about his actions later, Kharge said he was left with no choice as Dhankhar had been ignoring him to "insult him".

"This is actually the Chairman's fault. I observed parliamentary rules and raised my hand for 10 minutes, but he did not look at me. That's when I had to go in to attract his attention but he still did not look at me.

"When all the members came (into the well), I walked out, I did not even stay there. I tried to attract his attention, but he was only looking towards the treasury benches. When I raised my hand, he should have looked at me according to the rules, but he did what he did to ignore and insult me," the Congress President claimed.

"The only other option I had was to start shouting from my seat. So, this is, I have to say, the fault of the Chairman... There has been such a big scam in the NEET exam, the paper has been leaked, lakhs of students are worried. We were only demanding a specific discussion and trying to raise the issues of the students," he said.

In a post on X later, Kharge also accused the Vice President of step-motherly behaviour towards the opposition.

Senior Congress Leader Jairam Ramesh also took to social media to counter Dhankhar's claim that this was the first time a Leader of the Opposition had walked into the well.

Taking a dig at the BJP over its perceived closeness with former Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who quit the party in 2022, Ramesh wrote, "Memories are short especially when old rivals become new partners.On Aug 5 2019, the-then Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad sat on the steps leading to the Chairman's presiding seat - which is very much part of the Well.

"This was when the Bills to abolish Article 370 and downgrade the status of J&K from a full-fledged state to a UT were being introduced. I should know - I sat next to him."

Even as the government indicated that it was ready for a discussion on the paper leaks in the NEET, UGC-NET, and other exams, the House was adjourned, initially till noon and then until Monday.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who is now the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, hit out at the government and said that it was running away from a discussion on an issue that he termed a "disaster".

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