Aga Ruhullah speaking in the Lok Sabha
Aga Ruhullah speaking in the Lok Sabha

SRINAGAR — Aga Ruhullah Mehdi, the National Conference (NC) Member of Parliament from Srinagar, in his maiden parliamentary speech on Wednesday did not shy away from addressing contentious issues, notably Article 370 and accusations of Muslim MPs being labelled as terrorists. His remarks provoked a visibly angry response from Speaker Om Birla, who advised Mehdi to familiarize himself with the House’s proceedings before making such comments.

As per the news agency KNO, Mehdi began his speech with a mix of congratulations and pointed sarcasm. “From today onwards, you (Om Birla) are the guardian of the Constitution and not of any party. I hope you will fulfill this responsibility. You will be remembered in this House for forcing the ruling party to listen to the opposition or for silencing the opposition,” he said.

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The NC MP didn’t stop there. He continued, “You (Birla) will be remembered for how you handle situations when a Muslim MP is called a terrorist in the Lok Sabha. If such accusations are tolerated here, they will be perpetuated on the streets.”

Om Birla, clearly perturbed by Mehdi’s comments, responded, “This is the first day of the House. While speaking, be careful about what you are commenting. Look at the tenure now. Then comment.”

Unfazed, Mehdi resumed his speech, criticizing the swift passage of the bill to revoke Article 370. “India is the largest democracy in the world. The 370 bill was brought in a minute and it was passed in half an hour,” he claimed.

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Mehdi’s statements sparked an uproar in the House, prompting Speaker Birla to restore order. “He (Ruhullah) has no knowledge. The bill to repeal Article 370 was discussed for nine and a half hours,” Birla retorted.

Pertinently, Om Birla was re-elected as the Speaker of the Lok Sabha for a second consecutive term through a voice vote. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Leader of the Opposition, Rahul Gandhi escorted Birla to the Speaker’s chair, in keeping with tradition.

In his first address to the 18th Lok Sabha, Birla invoked memories of the Emergency, emphasizing the importance of democracy. The House adjourned after the heated exchange, setting the tone for what promises to be a contentious parliamentary session.

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