You are 'Omicron', get 'Modi vaccine': BJP MP tells protesting opposition members


New Delhi: A BJP MP on Wednesday dubbed the opposition members protesting in Rajya Sabha as "Omicrons", alleging they were a threat to democracy, and asked them to get the "Modi vaccine" for protection against the new coronavirus variant.

Participating in a short-duration discussion on the situation arising out of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in the Upper House of Parliament, BJP MP Shiv Pratap Shukla alleged that the opposition members were running away from the debate as they did not want to recognise the efforts of the government in controlling the virus and only wanted to disturb the House.

He also urged them to follow social distancing norms and wear masks while protesting in the Well of the House.

"We all are discussing Omicron and Omicron is standing right before us," Shukla said, pointing towards the opposition members.

"I feel that there cannot be a bigger Omicron than this, which is not allowing Parliament to function. That is why there is a danger to democracy in Parliament because of these Omicrons. These Omicrons are not becoming silent even when the Chair is making efforts," he said, again pointing towards the protesting opposition members.

The opposition objected to his remarks, with Manoj Kumar Jha of the RJD saying he has no right to speak so.

"Our senior member from BJP, while speaking on the debate, called all of us (opposition) as Omicron. Is it right to use such language. Such terminology angers us," Jha said, adding, "We all should collectively take back the suspension (of 12 members) and the dignity of the opposition should be restored."

The opposition has been protesting the suspension of 12 opposition members in Rajya Sabha.

BJP MP Shukla said when the entire world was fighting COVID-19, two vaccines were developed in India and a majority of the population has been administered with these vaccines.

"Some people used to say these are 'Modi vaccines' or 'BJP vaccines', but they too have taken these vaccines to save their lives," he said, in a swipe at the opposition.

He said the WHO has expressed concerns over the new variant. It is very important to be cautious against this virus.

"But what should we do about this new virus, which instead of sitting on its seat has come into the Well," he said, pointing towards the opposition members.

He said the government is taking caution to ensure that there are no casualties and has already issued guidelines to tackle the Omicron variant.

Pointing towards the protesting Shiv Sena members, he said, "Shiv Sena is dancing here even though 18 (Omicron) cases are in Maharashtra alone."

Bhubaneswar Kalita, who was in the Chair, first asked Sushmita Deb to initiate the discussion but she was not allowed to do so as she raised the issue of suspension of the MPs.

Initiating the discussion, G K Vasan (TMC-M) congratulated the government and the prime minister for vaccinating the people.

"...both the state and central governments should be together to get rid of Covid," he said, calling for rigorous screening.

He said the opposition and the government should come together to help and find a solution to the emergency situation in the country.

He said all decision making on Omicron should be based on scientific management and expert advice, as he called for the need for booster doses of vaccine to come out of the pandemic.

He said political parties and leaders should set an example and keep social gathering and rallies to a minimum.

A Navaneethakrishnan of the AIADMK urged the protesting members to allow him to speak. "Our central government headed by prime minister is doing very good work...Health is Wealth...our prime minister is waging an all-out war to protect India against the pandemic," he said.

"What you are doing is undemocratic. That is not correct. We have a robust healthcare system in place in India. A robust healthcare system is in place because of the efforts of the prime minister. Our PM is gaurding us like Maduraveeran and Ayyanar (Tamil folk deities)," he said.

Ram Nath Thakur of the BJP also lauded the government's efforts in checking the spread of the new variant and said all should be cautious and should follow guidelines and protocols to protect themselves.

Syed Zafar Islam of the BJP, in his maiden speech in Rajya Sabha, said the emergence of the Omicron variant is a serious issue and is spreading across the globe. In countries like the UK, 44 per cent of new Covid cases are of the Omicron variant.

"The country is facing the danger of Omicron... This can happen here also," he noted and asked if the vaccines administered to Indians would work against Omicron as well.

He also criticised the opposition for not allowing the House to function and debate such an important issue.

The opposition continued with its protest against the suspension of the MPs in the Well and demanded that it be revoked. PTI

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