Sarcastic comment sparks Dhankhar-Kharge Rajya Sabha spat

Wednesday 10th July 2024 07:56 EDT

A war of words erupted between Rajya Sabha chairperson Jagdeep Dhankhar and leader of opposition Mallikarjun Kharge after the former sarcastically told Congress member Jairam Ramesh to take the latter’s post of LoP.
Kharge, who is a Dalit, said Dhankhar was bringing in the “Varna” (caste) system by calling Ramesh “intelligent and gifted”, and by implication labelling him “dull”. An agitated Dhankhar then rapped Kharge for “twisting” his remarks.
The acrimonious exchange began when Congress member and deputy LoP Pramod Tiwari was attacking the govt for “betrayal” on multiple fronts during the motion of thanks on the President’s address. When Dhankhar told Tiwari not to make unverified claims, Ramesh interjected to say that they would be authenticated.
“The senior leadership (Kharge) is here. I think you (Ramesh) should replace (Kharge).... You are so intelligent, so gifted, so talented, you should immediately come and take the seat in place of Kharge because, by and large, you are doing his job,” the chairperson said.
Kharge promptly retorted: “Don’t bring in the Varna system. It is still in your mind... that is why you are saying Ramesh is very intelligent... and that I am dull so that I should be replaced.”
Accusing Kharge of “twisting” his statement, Dhankhar said he did not mean anything like that. “You cannot run down the Chair all the time. Never in the history of Parliamentary democracy and Rajya Sabha proceedings, has there been such disregard of the Chair. I have a lot of patience and tolerate so much,” Dhankhar said.
Adding that Ramesh was always passing some comment or the other, the Chairperson said, “There is a problem which you have to solve.” Pointing to Congress leader Sonia Gandhi sitting next to him, Kharge said it was she and the people who had made him LoP, “not Jairam Ramesh or you.”

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