A discussion on the centre’s flood aid for Tamil Nadu escalated into a massive row in Lok Sabha today after DMK leader TR Baalu hit out at a Union minister, calling him “unfit to be an MP or minister”. The BJP retaliated, accusing the DMK MP of insulting a Dalit minister and demanding his apology.
The heated exchange broke out after DMK MPs A Raja and A Ganeshamurthi fielded questions to the Centre on the steps taken to assist Tamil Nadu in rebuilding after the floods. As Mr Baalu was speaking, Union Minister L Murugan, also from Tamil Nadu, intervened and remarked that the DMK members were asking “irrelevant” questions.
Thiru TR Balu is a disgrace to politics & this is not the first time he has made disgraceful remarks about a member of the Scheduled Caste Community. I strongly condemn these remarks on Hon MoS Thiru @Murugan_MoS avl in the Temple of Democracy.
— K.Annamalai (@annamalai_k) February 6, 2024
Infuriated, Mr Baalu thundered, “He (Murugan) should know some discipline. You are unfit to be a Member of Parliament. You are unfit to be a minister. You don’t have any guts to face us, we will teach you.”
This sparked a strong response from the BJP. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi stood up and questioned how a senior leader like Mr Baalu can call a minister “unfit”. “How can you call him unfit? It is unfair,” Mr Joshi said.
Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal joined him. “This is not good. How can you call a minister unfit? You should withdraw this remark. You must apologise. He is a Dalit minister. You are insulting Dalits. We will not tolerate this,” he said. Mr Meghwal also said that the DMK MP had used an “unparliamentary” word in the House.
Mr Joshi said, “You have a right to question, but you cannot call our minister unfit. Who are you to do that?”
Noisy arguments broke out as both BJP and DMK members traded barbs at each other and raised slogans. After the uproar died down, Mr Baalu spoke again, only to double down on his charge. “He is unfit to be in politics,” he added, sparking another round of uproar.
DMK MP Raja spoke to news agency ANI on the incident. He said the party members were agitated because the centre’s reply to the questions on flood relief were “evasive and irresponsible”. “TR Baalu wanted to ask some questions but L Murugan stopped him, saying that Tamil Nadu’s demands are not reasonable. So then we said, ‘you are not fit to be an MP from Tamil Nadu since you are against its interests’,” he said.
#WATCH | “…It is not an unparliamentary remark…,” says DMK MP TR Baalu on his “unfit to be in Parliament” remark against MoS & BJP leader L Murugan who interrupted him while speaking in Lok Sabha on demand for flood relief fund for Tamil Nadu. pic.twitter.com/6KBp1a1N73
— ANI (@ANI) February 6, 2024
Mr Baalu told ANI that his question did not concern Mr Murugan’s ministry. “He is from Tamil Nadu. That’s why we said you are a traitor. He spoke against Tamil Nadu’s interests,” he said. Mr Murugan is a Rajya Sabha MP and Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, and Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying.
The DMK leader added that “unfit” is not an unparliamentary minister. Asked about the BJP’s charge that he had insulted Dalits, DMK MPs protested strongly, with Mr Raja saying, “I am also a Dalit.”
Tamil Nadu BJP chief has slammed Mr Baalu over the remarks, saying that he is a “disgrace to politics” and “this is not the first time he has made disgraceful remarks about a member of the Scheduled Caste Community”.