Should I say I am not allowed to speak in Parliament because I am Dalit: Kharge

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Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge joins the protest against the suspension of 141 Opposition MPs at Parliament House during the Winter Session, in New Delhi on December 20, 2023.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge joins the protest against the suspension of 141 Opposition MPs at Parliament House during the Winter Session, in New Delhi on December 20, 2023.
| Photo Credit: ANI

Congress president Mallikarjun Mr. Kharge on Dec. 20 said caste should not be dragged into every issue and wondered if he should rake up his Dalit origins every time he is not allowed to speak in the Rajya Sabha, amid a row over the mimicry of Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar.

Mr. Dhankhar, who is also Rajya Sabha Chairperson, has flayed the mimicry, calling it as an insult to his background as a farmer and ‘Jat’ (his caste). The ruling BJP has echoed a similar view.

Speaking to reporters, Mr. Kharge said the Chairperson’s job is to give protection to other members but he himself is making such a statement.

“I am not allowed to speak in Rajya Sabha often. Should I say it is because I am a Dalit,” he added.

They should not incite people outside in the name of caste by talking about it inside, he said.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said it is a very sad day for the country when people holding constitutional positions talk about their castes.

The government is trying to wash its hands of the issue of Parliament’s security breach by taking up such an issue, he added.

Should everyone now move around wearing a label declaring their caste, he asked.

A political row broke out on Dec. 19 after Trinamool Congress leader Kalyan Banerjee derisively mimicked Mr. Dhankhar during the Opposition’s protest on the stairs of Parliament against the MPs’ suspension, drawing strong condemnation from the ruling BJP.

Mr. Kharge also asked if the government should also not apologise for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah not speaking on the issue of Parliament’s security breach in the two Houses but referring to them outside.

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