When a sitting MP jumped up on a bench to avoid being ejected from the House by marshals and then smashed a glass threatening to cut himself with it, there was utter silence in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday afternoon.
It was drama of a tenor not seen before in the usually sedate Upper House.
Samajwadi Party’s Kamal Akhtar stole the spotlight. He was one of seven suspended MPs who were bodily removed for unruly behaviour,
Akhtar jumped on the bench, kicked at a marshal who came close (and missed) and refused to be led out of the House. The marshals offered him a glass of water, but to their surprise, he downed the water in one gulp and smashed the glass against the bench.
As the entire Rajya Sabha and its galleries (for visitors, media, officials and dignitaries) watched in silence, the marshals swooped in on Akhtar — about to slash his wrists with broken glass — snatched away the glass and carried him out.
A young security staff marshal sustained minor injuries on his face from the shards of glass.
The day began dramatically. The House was adjourned less than a minute after it opened at 11 am. When it resumed at noon, Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice-President of India Hamid Ansari suspended seven MPs: Kamal Akhtar, Veerpal Singh Yadav, Amir Alam Khan, Nand Kishore Yadav (all from the SP); Ejaz Ali (Janata Dal United), Sabir Ali (Lok Janshakti Party) and Subhash Prasad Yadav (Rashtriya Janata Dal). Another adjournment followed.
The seven, however, refused to leave and sat in the well of the Rajya Sabha though multiple adjournments. Had they left the House they would not have been allowed in until the suspension was revoked.
The House met again at 2 pm, but another suspension followed. At three pm, MPs and those in the Rajya Sabha galleries realised some action would follow since the Chairman himself was in the chair.
The seven suspended MPs continued shouting “taaanaashaahi nahi chalegi (dictatorial attitudes cannot be allowed to prevail)…” even as BJP leader Arun Jaitley attempted to deliver a speech in support of the Women’s Reservation Bill.
At 2.20 pm, the marshals began stationing themselves outside the doors of the Rajya Sabha. For almost 25 minutes, the seven MPs continued screaming slogans. They kept moving closer and closer to the chairman’s podium.
When one of them tried to snatch some papers from the Rajya Sabha secretary-general, 50 marshals closed in. They bodily lifted out six of the MPs. Akhtar proved the difficult customer.
“The incident rings a danger bell for democracy. This is complete dictatorship. Now the government can pass any bill in both Houses by marshalling out dissenting members,” Ejaz Ali, told reporters later.
Veerpal Singh Yadav alleged that the incident showed the Centre had imposed “unannounced emergency” in the country.