Under fire from the members in the Treasury and the BJP-led Centre over his mock impersonation of Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar on the Parliament complex, suspended TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee on Wednesday clarified his conduct saying he was not intending to hurt anyone.
A video went viral earlier showing Banerjee mimicking Dhankhar’s mannerisms and physical limitations during a protest by the suspended Opposition members on the stairs of the Parliament on Tuesday.
The viral clip drew sharp condemnation from the ruling BJP. The chairman of the Upper House, too, took a serious view of the mimicry and expressed his anguish over it.
Addressing reporters on Wednesday, Banerjee said, “I wasn’t intending to hurt anyone. I do not know why he is taking this on himself. Does he act like this in the Rajya Sabha?”
He added that he respects the Vice President as they both belong to the same profession — law.
“I respect Dhankar Sahib a lot. He’s also a senior advocate, I’m too. I’ve great respect for Dhankar-ji. Firstly, he belongs in the same profession as me and secondly, because he was formerly a governor (of West Bengal). He is our Vice President,” Banerjee said.
Also hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the TMC MP said, “Even the PM mimicked Opposition leaders in the Lok Sabha between 2014 and 2019. He did it. But everyone took it as harmless humour, not seriously. Now, if they are taking it seriously in my case, I can’t help it.”
Meanwhile, reacting to the mimicry incident, the chairman in the Upper House asked the LoP to prevail upon Opposition members to not indulge in indecorous conduct.
He said he would swallow personal insults in the discharge of his duty to protect the dignity of his office.
After convening for business on Wednesday, the Rajya Sabha was adjourned till 12.
Earlier, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said as a mark of protest over the mimicry incident, members in the Treasury benches will stand during the Question Hour.
“The President has expressed her dismay over the mimicry incident. As a mark of protest and solidarity with the chair, treasury benches will keep standing during Question Hour,” Joshi said in the Upper House.
Earlier in the day, expressing concern over the mimicry incident of Rajya Sabha Chairman by suspended TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee outside the Parliament, President Droupadi Murmu on Wednesday said that she was “dismayed to see the manner in which the Vice President was humiliated”.
Taking to her official handle on social media handle X, the President said that the people of India are proud of the conutry’s Parliamentary tradition and expect them to uphold it.
“I was dismayed to see the manner in which our respected Vice President was humiliated in the Parliament complex. Elected representatives must be free to express themselves, but their expression should be within the norms of dignity and courtesy. That has been the Parliamentary tradition we are proud of, and the people of India expect them to uphold it,” the President posted on X.
Meanwhile, weighing in on the mimicry row, Congress MP Jairam Ramesh on Wednesday claimed it was a ploy to deflect public attention from the suspension of 141 MPs from the Parliament.
The members were suspended for raising a ruckus and disrupting proceedings in both Houses over their demand for a statement from Union Home Minister Amit Shah over the Parliament security breach incident of December 13.
Earlier, on Tuesday, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi demanded an apology from the INDIA bloc over the mimicry incident of Dhankar and said that the opposition members tried to belittle the image of the Vice President adding that they are against the tribal and farming communities of the nation.
While expressing concerns in Rajya Sabha over the mimicry incident, Joshi said,” Leader of Congress, a former Congress President who could not manage his own party affairs was trying to encourage this unfortunate act. This incident has circulated on social media and people are condemning it.”
The suspended TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee, during the protest with other suspended MPs at Parliament’s Makar Dwar, was seen mimicking the Vice President while Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was seen filming the Trinamool MP using his phone.
Forty-nine more opposition MPs were suspended from Lok Sabha on Tuesday for ‘misconduct” for the remainder of the monsoon session. The total number of MPs suspended from Parliament is now 141.