The Opposition kept up the pressure on the government on Wednesday as Congress president Sonia Gandhi and leaders of six other parties staged a protest against the suspension of 25 of its MPs outside Parliament, threatening to continue demonstrating till the government backed down.
An aggressive Congress-led Opposition has locked horns with the government since the monsoon session began, demanding the resignation of top BJP leaders over the Lalit Modi and Vyapam controversies.
The stalemate has held to ransom Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reform agenda, including the landmark goods and services tax bill amid fears that plunging investment and flagging reforms may hurt India’s growth story.
The suspensions of its MPs for disrupting the Lok Sabha have also made the Congress harden its stance in Parliament with backing from other parties amid signs of a climbdown from the NDA on key legislation, including a controversial land acquisition bill.
For the second straight day, Sonia shouted slogans against the government -- flanked by leaders from the Janata Dal (United), Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Left parties -- and said the protests would continue on Thursday.
"End dictatorship", "Prime Minister break silence" "Where have the ‘Achhe din’ gone" were among the slogans shouted by the protestors carrying black flags.
"We have not liked the Lok Sabha speaker's decision on suspension of Cong MPs but we respect her position,” Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said.
Vociferous protests by the Congress also forced the Rajya Sabha to adjourn as party legislators shouted slogans against the government’s “dictatorial” attitude and rushed to the well of the House.
Since the session began on July 21, the upper House has barely transacted any legislative business as an aggressive Congress-led Opposition stalled Parliament. The suspension of 25 of its lawmakers for five days by Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan has worsened the logjam.
As Congress members continued to disrupt proceedings with slogans, minister of state for parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi asked Kurien to continue. "Let the business in the House be allowed to carry on. Let them raise slogans," he said.
After repeated pleas by Kurien went unheeded, he said, "This is nothing but indiscipline. Because of the unruly behaviour of some of the members, I am forced to adjourn the House."
He continuously asked with them to take their seats and allow discussion to take place. "It will not take you anywhere. Parliament is for discussion and debate and not for slogans,” he said.