Ruckus in Lok Sabha as Tharoor says democracy betrayed


New Delhi, July 18: The Lok Sabha on Wednesday witnessed a ruckus when senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor held the ruling party responsible for the attack on his office in Kerala and issuing death threats. Ground rules of democracy are being betrayed by this party and its supporters, he said.

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Though he named the party in context of the attack on his office in Thiruvananthapuram, the Chair later expunged the references to the two parties that came up during the exchanges.

Tharoor later told the media outside Parliament that the BJP was responsible for the attack. “Those who attacked my office should apologise. I am not withdrawing anything.”

“If you make India for one religion, that can probably break the country. When everyone is able to live together, how will that break the country,” he added.

Earlier, in the house, he appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to break his silence over the behaviour of his partymen and take action against “anti-national elements”.

“I raise before this house the attack on my constituency office in Thiruvananthapuram and the death threats I have received from members of the ruling party in response to my criticism of the far-right extremism,” Tharoor said during the Zero Hour.

“This is not just an attack on constitutionally sanctioned MP office but a larger attempt by incendiary elements to destroy the idea of India as a pluralistic and accepting democracy,” he added.

This led to a ruckus, with Bharatiya Janata Party lawmakers raising slogans and demanding expunging of certain words in his remarks.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ananth Kumar said that another party’s supporters had attacked his Thiruvananthapuram office.

The Chair later intervened and expunged the names of the two political parties from the statements.

Tharoor said: “Their victims in recent months have included intellectuals, minorities, and various citizens of the country. Yesterday (Tuesday), even (social activist) Swami Agnivesh was attacked (in Jharkhand).”

“These are the people who have expressed dissent against rising intolerance in today’s India and they are being attacked physically,” the Congress leader said.

“… those who are doing this are disregarding the singular principle of our historic democratic consensus. In a diverse democracy like ours, you don’t really need to agree all the time, so long as you will agree on the ground rules of how you will disagree…,” Tharoor said.

“… that’s what we have seen with the no-confidence motion. But it’s not what we are seeing in the streets, where the ground rules of our democracy are being betrayed by those who have been elected by the people of India.”

The Congress leader accused the ruling party of “betraying” this basic ground rule.

“We should not stand by communal violence, mob-lynching and hooliganism that replace the rule of law and rights guaranteed by our Constitution,” said Tharoor.