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Dalits and Adivasis

“Should I Say I’m Not Allowed to Speak Because I’m a Dalit?” Kharge Challenges Caste-Infused Debates

Congress President and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, voiced concern over the recurring use of caste as a tool for incitement in political discourse. Kharge said the caste shouldn’t be dragged into every issue, questioning whether he would be barred from speaking in the House due to his Dalit identity.

Speaking to the media outside Parliament, Kharge said, “Caste should not be dragged into every issue and used to incite people. If I am not allowed to speak, should I say it is because I am Dalit?”

Kharge criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for their absence in parliamentary proceedings despite the ongoing session. He questioned whether the leaders had effectively boycotted Parliament, highlighting the seriousness of the recent security breach on December 13.

“The mimicry incident took place outside the House; however, a resolution was passed in the House condemning it. Is it justified? We don’t want to disrespect anyone as it is not in our character,” Kharge said, referring to the BJP passing a resolution in the House regarding the mimicking of Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar.

Kharge further took a swipe at Modi and Shah’s communication strategy, accusing them of addressing issues through media appearances in cities like Ahmedabad and Varanasi instead of engaging in parliamentary discussions.

Meanwhile, echoing Kharge’s sentiments, Congress Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor criticized the suspension of 141 MPs for the remainder of the Winter Session. Tharoor labeled it a “travesty of parliamentary democracy” and highlighted the unprecedented nature of such a mass suspension in the history of parliamentary democracies worldwide.

“That is the dubious record that has been set by the Parliament. Everyone understands a basic principle of parliamentary democracy is the accountability of the ministers to the Parliament,” said Tharoor

Tharoor said that the fundamental principle of ministerial accountability to Parliament during sessions, criticizing the Home Minister for not addressing the concerns raised by the Opposition regarding the security breach.

“When the Opposition called for a discussion on the security breach and requested that the Home Minister should come and speak to Parliament, the Home Minister did not come and was not ready to speak. He was giving statements outside to the media, he was giving press interviews, but he was not prepared to speak inside Parliament. This is why the Opposition protested,” he said.

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