New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha on Thursday witnessed angry scenes with the opposition and treasury benches involved in a war of words after BJP member Subramanian Swamy mentioned the name of a European nation, a reference later expunged by the chair.
Swamy came in the direct line of fire of Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad who said that the BJP member did not know the difference between "parliamentary and street language". Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien too remarked that Swamy, a known Congress baiter, is "unnecessarily provoking" the opposition.
There were no adjournments however.
The commotion started as soon as the upper house met, when Bharatiya Janata Party's Swamy, who raised the opposition's temper on Wednesday with certain references that were later expunged, was on his feet.
Swamy kept standing, which got the Congress members agitated. He made an oblique comment on the party leadership, to which the Congress protested. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi then said it was wrong to stop any member from speaking.
Asked by the chair about the purpose of his standing, Swamy said he has given a notice under Rule 167 to discuss the AgustaWestland issue.
Kurien however said a decision on the notice will be taken by the chairman. On Wednesday, Swamy had not been able to complete his statement on the chopper deal, following the uproar that followed his comments.
On Thursday, as the zero hour proceeded, Chaudhary Munawwar Saleem of the Samajwadi Party raised the issue of minority status of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), in the course of which he mentioned Swamy's name.
"If there is an attempt to end its minority character it will be dangerous. If you want to educate those that the Sachchar Committee has said are worse than Dalits in terms of education, protect the minority status of Aligarh Muslim University. Aligarh has had a role in the freedom movement. Rise above party politics and protect minority status of the university," he said.
"In JP's leadership, many people of the time are here, like Subramanian Swamy who promised in a declaration that the minority status of Aligarh Muslim University will be established. In 1971 Indira Gandhi enforced it," he said.
Swamy then stood to clarify his stand as he was named in Saleem's mention.
"I have no objection to a minority education institution. However, Article 27 and others prohibit the state from financing a minority institution," Swamy said, and Congress members again raised the pitch.
Baiting the Congress, Swamy said they were ignorant of the Indian constitution and mentioned a European nation, a reference which was expunged by Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien later and media was asked not to report it.
Angry exchanges followed between treasury and opposition benches, as the Congress members shouted "CIA" and Swamy responded with "ISI".
An angry deputy chairman called it a "deliberate attempt to subvert zero hour" and asked Azad to explain what was the problem.
"Problem is this new gift of BJP... This new gift will not allow the house to function," said Azad.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh added: "He needlessly brought the reference to a European country."
Ramesh, along with party colleague Kumari Selja repeatedly told the chair to ask Swamy to sit down, to which Kurien retorted: "You can't direct me like that."
Repeated assurances by the chair that the mention of the country has been expunged fell on deaf ears, and he also clarified that media shall not report it.
An agitated Azad then said: "It is only his second day in the house. In two days you have expunged twice... There are 365 days, how many times are you going to expunge his words?"
"He does not know the difference between street words and parliamentary words. He does not because he does not allow his hair to grey so that he may learn," said Azad.
Swamy however went ahead to name the country again and said he understood now that the mention is unparliamentary.
"Subramanian Swamy is unnecessarily provoking. I will have to take action against that... Why do you mention another country," remarked Kurien.
A couple of other zero hour mentions were read out after that, and commotion returned to the upper house.
This time, Naqvi pointed out that Swamy's name was in the list for zero hour mentions but he was not called.
Kurien said he might be having another list, but Naqvi insisted that Swamy's name was there.
"His name is in the list. How can it be changed at the last minute?" said Naqvi.
To which Kurien responded sharply: "Mr. Minister I know the factual position better than you. Number two, minister should not stand up and raise... you can approach the chairman and get the latest position."
"If you or Subramanian Swamy have any problem approach the chairman," said Kurien.
On Wednesday, Swamy named Congress president Sonia Gandhi while raising a zero hour mention on AgustaWestland scam, which was later expunged by Kurien.
He could barely complete his sentence when angry Congress members tried to march to the treasury benches, making aggressive gestures. Sonia Gandhi later said she is "not afraid".