An elected member of the Lok Sabha openly uses anti-Muslim slurs against a Muslim member of Parliament during an ongoing session of the Parliament. He calls the Muslim MP a “B****a (pimp)”, “K***a (circumcised)”, “Mullah Atankwadi (Muslim terrorist)” and a “Mullah Ugrawadi (Muslim militant)” while giving a speech on record. The words uttered by the MP from the ruling party are televised. 75 years after attaining Independence, this is the state of our beloved India that is Bharat.
On September 21, BJP Lok Sabha MP Ramesh Bidhuri, from South Delhi, used filthy and violent anti-Muslim slurs against MP Danish Ali of the Bahujan Samaj Party during the special session of the Parliament. In the video that has now surfaced, Bidhuri can be heard giving a communally charged rant while talking about the recent Chandrayan 3 mission, referring to the Ali as a terrorist, urging the speaking to “throw the Mullah (anti-Muslim slur) out”. The video also shows another senior BJP member and former government minister, namely Harsh Vardhan, sitting behind Bidhuri and laughing at the anti-Muslim diatribe. The Lok Sabha speaker, Om Birla, can be heard asking the MPs to sit down.
Indian Muslims are increasingly being subjected to systematic discrimination, prejudice, and violence despite there being constitutional protections in place, and yet, this open show of the prevailing anti-Muslim sentiment and islamophobia in a “temple of democracy” has brought shame to India.
It is important to highlight here that a report of the Indian Express has provided that Ali had approached speaker Om Birla to draw his attention to the anti-Muslim remarks made by Bidhuri and demanded some action over it. As per the IE report, Ali had written a letter to the speaker, which stated “I write to you with deep anguish regarding the speech given in the Lok Sabha by an MP of the BJP, Mr Ramesh Bidhuri, during the discussion on Chandrayaan success… During the course of his speech, he directed the most foul, abusive invectives against me, which are part of the records of the Lok Sabha. Among the words he directed against me were ‘B****a’ (pimp),’K***a’ (circumcised one), ‘Mullah ugravadi’ (Muslim terrorist) ‘atankvadi’ (terrorist) etc… This is most unfortunate and the fact that it has happened in a new Parliament building under your leadership as Speaker is truly heart-breaking for me as a minority member of this great nation and an elected Member of Parliament as well.”
Furthermore, Ali also requested the Speaker to take “cognisance of this foul conduct on the floor of the House and take appropriate action” against Bidhuri. In addition to this, Ali had also asked that the matter be referred to the Privileges Committee of the Lok Sabha for prompt action.
As per ANI, sources in the Lok Sabha secretariat have provided that Birla took a serious view of use of unparliamentary words by Bidhuri. “He has issued a warning that if there is any recurrence of such behaviour in future, strict action will be taken,” ANI reported. Notably, as reported by various media reports, the Speaker also expunged the remarks made by Bidhuri.
What had led to the BJP MP making such disparaging remarks against the Muslim MP
In the report of the IE, Ali, an MP from Amroha in Uttar Pradesh, provided that the derogatory remarks were made by Bidhuri sometime after 10 pm in the Lok Sabha. He stated “The BJP MP was speaking in the House. During the speech, he said some people wanted Prime Minister Modi to die like a dog. I intervened and asked him what he was saying and that no one said that about the honourable Prime Minister. Then he called me names which included ‘terrorist’. I want to ask RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwatji, what is taught in their shakhas? Is this what they learn in Prime Minister Modiji’s pathshala?”
Reaction of the Bharatiya Janata Party to the remarks
It has been claimed by many that anti-Muslim sentiments have heightened under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling BJP government, which has promoted a Hindu nationalist agenda since elected to power in 2014. This is not the first time that a representative or a member of the BJP has openly made an offensive comment against the Indian Muslims. Anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic sentiments have been consistently aired by high-ranking members of the BJP and the government with impunity, and yet no concrete action has ever been taken against them. Be it Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal, who made an offensive statement against Prophet, or Haribhushan Thakur Bachaul, who said that Muslims should be set ablaze just as Hindus burn Ravana effigies during the festival of Dussehra.
No concrete action has yet been taken by the BJP party against Bidhuri. As per the IE report, BJP leaders provided that said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had apologised immediately after Bidhuri made the remarks in the Lok Sabha. “He apologised to the House as the Deputy Leader and ensured the smooth functioning of the proceedings,” a source in the BJP said, as per the IE report. A report by The Wire stated that Singh had “expressed regret” over the remarks. “I express regret if the opposition is hurt by the remarks made by the member,” Singh had said while clarifying that he had not heard the remarks himself. The question that arises here is that how far will this apology go? Should an elected member not be held accountable for attacking a fellow minister based on their religious community and bringing down the sanctity of the House of the People?
On many occasions in the past, the ruling party has requested the comments made by opposition leader to be expunged. During the budget session of 2023, in February, BJP MP Nishikant Dubey had written to the Lok Sabha speaker to move a breach of motion against MP Rahul Gandhi alleging that the allegations raised by him against the PM are baseless, derogatory and were not supported by documents. Notably, Rahul Gandhi had delivered a combative speech linking Adani’s meteoric rise in his business to the Modi government coming to power at the Centre in 2014. He had posed four questions to PM Modi which included asking him how many times he travelled with Adani abroad, how many times did the business tycoon joined the PM on foreign trips, how many times Adani visited that country immediately after PM’s foreign trip and got a contract. His remarks were expunged from records.
Ironically, on the same day as these comments were made by Bidhuri, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had requested the Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar to expunge the comments made by Derek O’Brien, Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP from Rajya Sabha. During the Rajya Sabha discussion regarding the Women’s Reservation Bill, O’Brien had made a ‘money, media, muscle power, misogyny, remark against PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. O’Brien had also referred to an alleged remark by then-Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adiyanath, reported in media, opposing women’s reservation bill in 2010.
The question that begs to be asked here is why did no BJP member demand the expunction of the anti-Muslim remarks made by Bidhuri? While, reportedly, the Lok Sabha Speaker issued a warning to Bidhuri, why was he not suspended from the Lok Sabha, much like O’Brien was during the Monsoon session for displaying ‘unruly behaviour, unbecoming of a member of the Rajya Sabha’? Does calling a Muslim MP from the opposition party a terrorist not a comment grave enough to attract suspension?
Reaction of the Opposition:
One of the first leaders to condemn the said incident was TMC MP Mahua Moitra. She took to X (formerly known as Twitter) to express her anguish and criticised BJP in a post, with a video clipping of Bidhuri’s speech attached. “Keeper of Maryada @ombirlakota Vishwaguru @narendramodi & BJP Prez @JPNadda… any action please?” she posted.
The tweet can be accessed here:
BJP MP @rameshbidhuri calling MP Danish Ali a “Bharwa” (pimp), “Katwa” (circumcised), “Mullah Atankwadi” & “Mullah Ugrawadi” ON RECORD in Lok Sabha last night.
— Mahua Moitra (@MahuaMoitra) September 22, 2023
In another post, she said “Abusing Muslims, OBCs an integral part of BJP culture – most now see nothing wrong with it. @narendramodi has reduced Indian Muslims to living in such a state of fear in their own land that they grin & bear everything. Sorry but I’m calling this out. Ma Kali holds my spine”.
Abusing Muslims, OBCs an integral part of BJP culture – most now see nothing wrong with it. @narendramodi has reduced Indian Muslims to living in such a state of fear in their own land that they grin & bear everything.
Sorry but I’m calling this out. Ma Kali holds my spine. pic.twitter.com/3NAqi5FWPy
— Mahua Moitra (@MahuaMoitra) September 22, 2023
Referring to the apology given by Rajnath Singh, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh called it an “eyewash”. As per the IE, Jairam Ramesh said “[It is a] complete shame what Bhiduri said. Rajnath Singh’s apology is not acceptable it was a half-hearted apology…it is an eyewash. Bhiduri has spoken in a language that is an insult not just to parliament but to every Indian,” Ramesh continued, wondering why the MP had not yet been suspended.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) said that Bidhuri should be arrested, as parliamentary privilege cannot extend to hate speech while the Aam Aadmi Party referred to yesterday’s session as ‘the blackest day in the history of Parliament.’
Is no Indian Muslim safe from Hate Speech in India?
The hateful politics that had spilled onto the streets of India, has now perpetrated the walls of the Parliament, serving as a stark reminder of the pitiful conditions faced by minorities in India. This display of discrimination and anti-Muslim bias, from an elected MP inside the Parliament is only proof.
Hate against Muslims has been mainstreamed like never before. And now, the inaction against this speech given by MP Ramesh Bidhuri during a session of the Parliament will be deemed as injustice to every member of the Muslim Community.