NEW DELHI: History is often made in Parliament suddenly. And so it was towards the end of this past week in the Rajya Sabha when Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while congratulating the JDU()nominee for being elected as Deputy Chairperson of the House, played on the initials of the Congress candidate B.K.Hariprasad. The only person who reacted to was new RJD entrant to the House Manoj Jha as he felt that the play on the initials of a MP was derogatory.

The Congress party was not particularly perturbed, with the seniors in the House barely reacting. When the House reconvened after lunch it was not a Congress MP, but Jha who raised a point of order.

Under what rule, the Chairperson asked. Rule 238, Clause 2, Jha who is also a professor in Delhi University replied. He said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had twisted the initials of BK Hariprasad, and this was “derogatory in intention and intent for him and the entire House.” The Chairperson Venkiah Naidu had no choice but to comply and the next morning Jha told The Citizen, he was informed that the remarks had been expunged.

As Jha said, he has realised that “parliamentary proceedings are for ever and I do not want future generations to be of the view that such remarks were made and no one protested.” He added, “I also want to help the PM to make sure he does not pass such remarks in the future.”

Jha said that this was the first time that a Prime Ministers remarks were expunged for being derogatory. There might have been occasions when this step was taken for some factual errors but never against a Prime Minister of India for being derogatory about another MP in the House, the RJD MP said.

This has caused major embarrassment to the government, as it is unprecedented.

Interestingly, this intervention by the RJD MP created a buzz not just in the central hall of parliament but also on the social media with several younger MPs, including of course RJD leader Tejaswi Yadav and Trinamool Congress leader Derek O Brien whose tweet wondered at a media that had not taken the issue up.

The Congress continues to look for directions from the top brass, in the absence of which the party MPs appear “too tired” to act. An opposition MP said that one would have expected the Congress to mount a huge protest as their candidate for the post of Deputy Chairperson, and senior MP from Karnataka Hariprasad had been insulted. But their first response was to let it go.

Jha has been very active in the Rajya Sabha, intervening regularly in debates, and keeping well within the time limits allocated for discussions. However, the points raised by him are well researched and hard hitting without being insulting to any leader or party in the House.