New Delhi: A combative Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi Wednesday led party MPs to the speaker's podium to protest against the government not agreeing to an immediate discussion on the increasing communal clashes in the country.
The Lok Sabha witnessed continuous protests from opposition parties including the Congress, Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal over their demand for discussion on the issue.
As soon as the house met, the opposition parties led by the Congress raised slogans demanding a debate on the communal incidents and sought introduction of the bill against communal violence.
Minutes later, Gandhi led a group of Congress parliamentarians to the speaker's podium, following which Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the house.
Former union minister M. Veerapa Moily told IANS that it was the first time that Rahul Gandhi had gone near the speaker's podium to protest.
"This reflected anguish of Rahul Gandhi against ruling party's adamancy," Moily said.
Talking to mediapersons after coming out of the house, Gandhi accused the speaker of not allowing the opposition to speak.
"We are asking for a discussion but there is a mentality in the government that discussion is not acceptable," Gandhi said.
"There is a mood in parliament that only one man's voice counts for anything in this country and only one voice is being heard," he added.
After the house proceedings resumed following its brief adjournment during question hour, opposition members resumed their protest.
Congress and some other opposition parties continuously raised slogans against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government.
At one time, BJP members stood up to protest against opposition members gesticulating near the speaker's podium. Sumitra Mahajan, however, told them to take their seats, saying that she was capable of dealing with the situation.
She asked leader of Congress in the house Mallikarjun Kharge to speak and told opposition members to take their seats.
Kharge said they had met her in the morning to demand an adjournment motion on the rising incidents of communal violence in the country which was affecting life and security of people. He said they were asked to raise the matter after the question hour.
Kharge's remarks that "riots were spreading everywhere" drew strong opposition from the treasury benches.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu refuted Kharge's allegation.
"They are frustrated. This is highly objectionable. There is peace in the country. There should be peace in the house. The country is safe and secure under leadership of Narendra Modi," he said.
Naidu said the government was willing to discuss the issue but procedures have to be followed. "Give notice, we are ready," he said.
The speaker asked Kharge to be specific in his remarks and tell the place where incidents had taken place.
Amid the standoff, the Congress and some other opposition members came near the speaker's chair raising slogans.
Sumitra Mahajan said that if Congress had given a notice, the matter will be discussed in the business advisory committee for fixing time for discussion.
Kharge said he had already given notice and said that either discussion should take place or a time be fixed for it.
Rahul Gandhi, who had gone out of the house briefly, also joined the protests and raised slogans against the government.
Congress and other members raised slogans such as "We want justice" , "hosh me aaoo (come to senses)."
The speaker conducted the proceedings of the house amid protests from opposition members and adjourned the house till 2 p.m.
Members from NCP and Aam Aadmi Party also got up from their seats to in support of demand for discussion on incidents of communal violence in the country.
Rahul Gandhi and other senior party leaders kept confabulating with Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who was seated, as they protested against the government.