The Bihar Assembly transacted no business for the second consecutive day on Wednesday as the angry opposition led by the BJP remained adamant on its demand to dismiss Excise Minister Abdul Jalil Mastan accused of making disparaging remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and instigating the crowd to beat his photograph with shoes.
They disrupted proceedings, shouted slogans and then sat on dharna in the well of the House to express anger over the move by the chief minister to “shield” the accused minister who is from the Congress.
As the House assembled for the day, the opposition leader Prem Kumar rose from his seat and demanded sacking of the minister. He refused to relent despite request by the Speaker to let the minister present his case in the House, and remained adamant on the demand, prompting the Chair to adjourn the House till 2 pm.
The scene was no better when the House reassembled at 2 pm. Angry members soon trooped into the well of the House and sat on dharna, forcing the Speaker to adjourn it for the day.
In between, a united opposition led a protest march to Raj Bhawan, seeking governor’s intervention in sacking the minister. “Such a minister needs to be fired without any delay. We don’t know what is preventing the chief minister from initiating action against him. This is not an ordinary incident which can be ignored,” former deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi told news after submitting a memorandum to the governor.
The BJP said it wouldn’t let the issue go so easily adding the minister will have to go. “On the one hand the minister denies making any obscene remarks against the PM, on the other he tenders apology. It’s strange,” he wondered.
Meanwhile, two separate cases were registered against the minister by the BJP leaders in Patna and Muzaffarpur for insulting the PM in public. In the first case lodged with the Kotwali police station in Patna, BJP legislator Nitin Navin has sought for slapping sedition charges against the minister, his arrest for disturbing communal harmony and a probe into his citizenship as he reportedly hails from an areas bordering Bangladesh. The BJP has also declared to stage a state-wide dharna on Saturday to protest minister’s conduct.
The Congress, however, ruled out sacking the minister. “The minister has already expressed regret for his conduct and thus there is no question of his sacking,” said senior Congress leader Sadanand Singh, after a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party leader held on late Wednesday evening at his residence. H said the entire party was with the minister.
Strangely, Congress’ own allies, the RJD and the JD-U have condemned the act of the minister. “Action must be taken against the minister if what the media is showing is true,” the RJD chief Lalu Prasad has said. He has also demanded severe action against all those who were caught on camera hitting the photograph of the PM with shoes allegedly on the instruction of the minister at a party rally.
“This is a very serious matter. The Congress should think over it,” the RJD chief added. The JD-U has already disapproved of the conduct of the minister.