26 Jun 2024

Speaker Om Birla's Reference to Emergency Sparks Commotion in House; What Shashi Tharoor Said?

After Om Birla was re-elected as Lok Sabha Speaker today, there were smiles and handshakes exchanged between rivals. The moment of camaraderie was brief as chaos ensued when the newly-elected Speaker referenced the "dark days of Emergency" and requested a 2-minute silence.

After Birla's re-election through a voice vote, Leader of the Opposition Rahul Gandhi extended his congratulations and exchanged handshakes with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Subsequently, the two leaders, accompanied by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju, escorted Birla to the Speaker's chair.

During the felicitations, the Prime Minister commended Birla's "sweet smile that keeps the entire House happy" and expressed that it was an honor for him to be elected to the position for a second term.

'Opposition also represents the voice of the people'

Opposition leaders also congratulated the Speaker. But they also emphasized the importance of allowing the Opposition to voice their opinions as they too represent the voice of the people.

Rahul Gandhi, now serving as the Leader of the Opposition, emphasized, "The issue is not just about the efficiency of running the House, but about ensuring that India's diverse voices are given the opportunity to be heard. The notion that running the House smoothly involves stifling the Opposition's voice is undemocratic. This election reflects the public's expectation for the Opposition to uphold the Constitution."

Additionally, various leaders from the Opposition benches referenced the widespread suspension of MPs in the previous term while conveying their congratulations.

In his address to the House, Birla emphasized the importance of all members collaborating for the nation's benefit. He urged the members to maintain decorum within the House, highlighting the distinction between expressing dissent within the parliamentary setting and taking to the streets for protests. 

House adjourned after commotion from Opposition benches

Following this, he called for a two-minute silence to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the "dark days of Emergency," which led to a commotion from the Opposition benches, resulting in the adjournment of the House.

Shashi Tharoor expressed his disappointment 

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor expressed his disappointment regarding the Speaker's mention of the Emergency, describing it as "unfortunate" that the Speaker's statement veered towards divisiveness rather than fostering a spirit of consensus. Tharoor remarked, "This was unnecessary. It occurred 49 years ago. To bring up such a topic on a day meant for promoting cooperation and consensus is regrettable."

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