New Delhi, India – A lawmaker from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made Islamophobic remarks and used communal slurs against a Muslim MP in parliament.
During a debate on Thursday on the success of India’s historic moon mission, BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri called Kunwar Danish Ali of the opposition Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) a “terrorist” and a “pimp” among in other offensive words.
“You extremist… I told you, you are circumcised,” the parliamentarian from the South Delhi constituency in the Indian capital said, using a slur commonly used for Muslims in India.
“I will see this mulla outside,” Bidhuri said in an apparent threat at the end of a viral video, as at least two senior BJP leaders and former union ministers laughed, sitting next to him.
Mulla is another derogatory word for Muslims in South Asia.
The comments inside the newly inaugurated parliament building sparked angry reactions from opposition parties and social media users who demanded strict action against Bidhuri.
Ali told Al Jazeera he was angry and hurt by the remarks, but “not shocked”.
“I want to ask Mohan Bhagwat and Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi: Is this what RSS teaches its cadres in their schools? he said.
The RSS refers to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or the National Association of Volunteers, the ruling BJP’s far-right ideological mentor who aims to create an ethnic Hindu state in the world’s most populous country. Bhagwat heads the RSS.group.
Ali said that if an elected lawmaker can be threatened inside a parliament like this, then “it speaks volumes about what the average Muslim is facing in this country”.
He said opposition members of parliament who were present during the debate stood up for him. “The MPs are from Congress and TMC [Trinamool Congress]especially female MPs, are speaking out,” she told Al Jazeera.
In a post on social media, TMC parliamentarian Mahua Moitra, who was the first lawmaker to share the X video, asked BJP president JP Nadda whether the right-wing party would take action against Bidhuri.
Abusing Muslims, OBCs is an integral part of BJP’s culture – most now see nothing wrong with it. @narendramodi has reduced the Indian Muslims to live in such a state of fear in their own land that they grin and bear it all.
Sorry but I called it. Ma Kali held my spine. pic.twitter.com/3NAqi5FWPy
— Mahua Moitra (@MahuaMoitra) September 22, 2023
“Abuse of Muslims, OBCs is an integral part of BJP’s culture,” he posted on X. OBCs refers to the constitutionally recognized “other backward castes”, who have historically been marginalized by the privileged few. caste Hindus.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi “has reduced Indian Muslims to live in such a state of fear in their own land that they grin and bear everything,” he wrote.
Omar Abdullah, a politician from Indian-administered Kashmir, said hatred against Muslims in India was “mainstreamed like never before”.
“How quick to blaspheme the tongue of this hater [honourable] MP!” he posted on X. “How do Muslims who identify with the BJP as their party live up to this level of vile hatred?”
Congress parliamentarian Jairam Ramesh demanded Bidhuri’s suspension from the lower house of parliament.
“I have never heard such language. This language should not be used in or out of parliament. This is an insult to not only Danish Ali but to all of us… The start of a new parliament was done by Bidhuri and his words,” Ramesh was quoted by the Hindustan Times newspaper as saying in the parliament.
As anger over the comments grew inside parliament, defense minister and former BJP president Rajnath Singh issued an apology.
“I am sorry if the opposition was offended by the member’s remarks,” he said. The comments have also been removed from parliamentary records.
On Friday, Om Birla, speaker of the lower house of parliament, said that “strict action” would be taken against Bidhuri “if such behavior is repeated”, the Press Trust of India reported.
“Strict action on repeat”. Shame on the Speaker for refusing to take any action against the abusive BJP MP. Opposition MPs are suspended for trivial offenses and here outright abuse is condoned. https://t.co/kQQQ6BlUAs
– Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) September 22, 2023
Ali, the lawmaker, said he would file a privilege notice with the speaker to seek action against Bidhuri.
Political observers said Bidhuri’s remarks were yet another example of anti-Muslim rhetoric and abuses used by BJP members and supporters.
“Calling an elected MP a terrorist, a militant and a circumcised mullah is not surprising because this is exactly the language already used in rallies and campaigns,” Ali Khan Mahmudabad, who teaches science in politics at Ashoka University near New Delhi, told Al Jazeera.