RS suspends 8 MPs, Opposition to knock on President’s door

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on September 21, 2020 Published on September 21, 2020

Venkaiah Naidu

Suspended MPs, Opposition members stage overnight sit-in inside Parliament premises to protest govt’s ‘bulldozing’

The unprecedented pandemonium in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday resulted in the suspension of senior Opposition MPs Derek O’Brien, Sanjay Singh, Rajiv Satav, KK Ragesh, Syed Naseer Hussain, Ripun Bora, Dola Sen and Elamaram Kareem for the remaining part of the Monsoon Session of Parliament on Monday. The ruckus continued with the suspended MPs first refusing to leave the House and then staging an overnight sit-in within the Parliament precincts alleging that the voting on the two contentious farm bills was not allowed to take place on Sunday because the BJP did not have a majority in the Upper House and it forced the passage of the legislations.

The government, on their part, refused to budge with Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, accompanied by three of his Cabinet colleagues — Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi — addressing a press conference late in the evening to assert that the Opposition’s conduct is “patently illegal”. He claimed that the BJP had a clear majority of 110 MPs in favour of the Bills against 72 MPs who were in Opposition.

“The Rajya Sabha Chairman today gave directive of suspension against the unruly MPs who snatched mikes, tore off wires and went to the extent of assaulting the Vice-Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh. If he was not saved by the marshals, the Vice Chairman was in danger of getting physically assaulted. But the suspended MPs did not leave the House. It is patently illegal and further aggravates their conduct,” said the Law Minister.

Citing Rule 256 of the Rules of Procedure in the Rajya Sabha, the Law Minister said refusing to leave the House after suspension is “illegal”. He said the Government would not allow “tyranny of the minority” in the Upper House. Prasad said it is a matter of record that the Vice-Chairman requested the MPs to go back to their seats 13 times. Sine they did not clear the aisles, the division of votes could not take place. “The debate on the Bills had gone on from 9.30 am till 1 pm. The sense of the House was in favour of the Bills, and therefore, voting was not required. And even if there was division, the BJP had the majority of 110 against 72. The Vice-Chairman asked them to go back as many as 13 times. It was the most shameful day in the history of parliament. Mikes were broken, wires were pulled. Leaders tore the rule book. A minister in the UPA government climbed atop the Vice Chairman’s podium. There is enough visual evidence available that if the marshals had not protected the Vice-Chairman, he would have been physically assaulted,” said the Law Minister.

The Opposition, meanwhile, has decided to challenge both the suspension and passage of the Farm Bills in Rajya Sabha. The suspended MPs and other leaders of Opposition started a protest in front of the Gandhi statue at the House complex. A meeting of senior leaders resulted in a resolution which talked about approaching President Ramnath Kovind and urging him to use Article 111 of the Constitution that empowers him to return the Bills to the Rajya Sabha for their proper consideration.

Earlier in the Upper House, the Opposition challenged the suspension and demanded a division on the motion moved by the Government to suspend the members. Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu denied a voting on the motion and House witnessed disruptions over the suspension. The House was adjourned twice for half an hour and later adjourned for the day at around 12 pm without taking any Government business.

Defies logic, says Naidu

Naidu said he was “pained” on Sunday as all Covid-related precautions and social distancing was violated by some members. “It defies logic. It is a bad day for Rajya Sabha,” he said. Naidu said in a statement that some members came to the well of the house, hurled papers and abused Deputy Chairman. “The rule book was also thrown at him,” he said.

He said some of the members admitted to their wrongdoing. “It tarnished the image of Parliament. Is it a Parliamentary standard? Please do some introspection,” he said. Naidu said the no-confidence motion moved by the Opposition against the Deputy Chairman cannot be admitted. He said the motion moved by the Leader of Opposition and 46 members was not in proper format as provision 90(C) of the Constitution mandates 14 days’ notice to move such a resolution. He said the House is going to get adjourned within a week and the motion is not admissible.

Naidu rejected the allegations against the Deputy Chairman and said he has gone through the entire proceedings. “I have observed that in view of the continuous disruption of the House, division could not have taken place. The conduct of some members grossly crossed all the decorum and etiquette,” Naidu said.

Later, he invited Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V Muraleedharan to move a motion. He read out a motion that the eight members brought disrepute to the August House and they should be suspended. Some members demanded a division on the motion, but the Chairman denied a division.

The Opposition parties also held strategy sessions as farmers’ protests gathered momentum in various parts of the country.

Strategy sessions

The Congress leadership, comprising senior leaders, general secretaries and in-charges of States, met at the AICC headquarters and resolved to fight along with the farmers. A resolution passed at the meeting said security personnel were brought to get the Bills passed. The party said the Bills will impact the lives of 62 crore people.

The Left parties decided to support the protests and urged their units to join hands with farmers. “The bulldozing of the ordinances concerning Indian agriculture as legislations was done denying the MPs the opportunity to discuss and refusing to have a division through a vote on these Bills in the Rajya Sabha. This is unprecedented and tantamount to murder of democracy,” the CPI(M) said in a statement.

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Published on September 21, 2020
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