Gandhinagar, Feb 20 (PTI) Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani was Wednesday suspended from the Gujarat Assembly for a day for refusing to apologise over his remark that the ‘Statue of Unity’ dedicated to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was made up of scrap metal.
Prior to his suspension, the Assembly was adjourned twice following chaos and heated exchanges between the BJP and the Congress over Dhanani’s remarks made earlier in the day, dubbed by the members of the ruling party and Speaker Rajendra Trivedi as an “insult” to Sardar Patel.
Trivedi suspended Dhanani as he refused to withdraw his words and tender an apology to the House.
Following the suspension of their leader, all the Congress MLAs staged a walkout amid sloganeering from both the sides.
During the Question Hour, Dhanani attacked the BJP government in the state saying, “Sardar Patel is known as the Iron Man of India. However, this government has constructed Sardar Patel’s statue using scrap metal pieces. The treasury bench itself was engaged in the collection of scrap metal”.
He was referring to the ‘Loha Campaign’ initiated by the BJP government in 2013-14 when Narendra Modi was the chief minister.
Under this campaign, used iron articles were collected from farmers from across the country.
At that time, the state government had announced that such metal articles will be used in the construction of the 182-meter tall statue dedicated to Patel.
Earlier in the day, when Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel was giving details about the tourist inflow at the ‘Statue of Unity’ during the question hour, he was interrupted by some Congress MLAs, who had sought a concise answer from the BJP leader.
However, the deputy CM objected saying the Congress does not have any respect for Sardar Patel. To this, Dhanani alleged that although Sardar Patel was a great leader, the BJP government had used scrap metal pieces to construct his statue.
Reacting strongly, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said the iron objects were the symbol of unity, not scrap metal.
“This is an insult of Sardar Patel. Dhanani has to apologise,” Rupani said amid slogan-shouting from both the sides.
In a stern warning amid chaos, BJP chief whip Pankaj Desai told the speaker that his party will not allow the House to function till Dhanani tenders an apology and withdraws his words.
As the chaos and sloganeering from both the sides continued, the House was adjourned for 20 minutes.
When the House met again in the evening, Trivedi asked Dhanani to take back his words and tender an apology.
However, the Congress leader said he had not used any unparliamentary language.
“Whatever I have said is already there on the website of the Statue of Unity. It was the BJP government that had started a campaign to collect the scrap metal,” Dhanani said.
Responding to the Congress leader, state parliamentary affairs minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama said it was an “intentional insult” of Sardar Patel by Dhanani.
The House was once again adjourned for 30 minutes amid sloganeering from both the sides.
When the House met after the break, Dhanani once again refused to accept BJP’s demand for an apology, following which, Nitin Patel told the speaker to take action.
Acting on the motion of suspension moved by Patel and supported by Chudasama, Trivedi suspended Dhanani for the rest of the day.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.