‘Selective expunction’: Rahul writes to LS Speaker, seeks restoration of expunged remarks

NEW DELHI — Leader of Opposition Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla over portions of his speech in the House having been expunged, saying that removing his considered remarks from records goes against the very tenets of parliamentary democracy and that they should be restored.

In his letter to Birla, Gandhi also cited BJP MP Anurag Thakur’s speech, saying that it was full of allegations but surprisingly only one word was expunged from it. He said “this selective expunction defies logic”.

In his first speech as the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Gandhi had launched a no-holds-barred attack on the BJP, accusing the leaders of the ruling party of dividing people on communal lines. Certain remarks he made during the discussion on the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address in the Lok Sabha on Monday were later expunged.

In his letter to Birla, Gandhi said while the Chair derives powers to expunge certain remarks from the proceedings of the House but the stipulation is only those kinds of words, the nature of which have been specified in Rule 380 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.

“I am, however, shocked to note the manner in which considerable portions of my speech have been simply taken off from the proceedings under the garb of expunction,” the former Congress chief said.

“I am constrained to state that the portions expunged do not come under the ambit of Rule 380. What I sought to convey in the House is the ground reality and the factual position. Every member of the House who personifies the collective voice of people whom he or she represents has the freedom of speech as enshrined in Article 105(1) of the Constitution of India,” Gandhi said.

He asserted that it is every member’s right to raise people’s concerns on the floor of the House.

“It is that right and in exercise of my obligations to the people of the country, that I was exercising yesterday,” he said.

Taking off from records my considered remarks goes against the very tenets of parliamentary democracy, Gandhi said in his letter to Birla.

“In this context, I also wish to draw attention to the speech of Shri Anurag Thakur, whose speech was full of allegations, however, surprisingly only one word has been expunged,” Gandhi said.

“With due respect to your good self, this selective expunction defies logic. I request that the remarks expunged from the proceedings be restored,” he said.

Speaking with reporters outside Parliament complex, Gandhi said truth can be expunged in the world of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but not in reality.

“Whatever I had to say, I have said and that is the truth. They can expunge as much as they want, but the truth will prevail,” Gandhi said.

Asked about the expunction issue, Congress general secretary K C Venugopal said the matter was with the Speaker and the party was hopeful that he would act. — (PTI)