Congress MPs led by president Sonia Gandhi, vice president Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demonstrated against the suspension of 25 party MPs outside Parliament on Tuesday, vowing to keep up pressure on the government and expand their protest across the country.
The lawmakers, wearing black arm bands, gathered near the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the Parliament complex and criticised Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s decision to suspend the MPs for five days for their unruly behaviour within the House on Monday.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Supriya Sule and some members of the RJD and SP joined the protest.
Referring to the suspension of the Congress MPs, Sonia Gandhi told the media that “democracy is being murdered”. Former Prime Minister Singh said the suspension of lawmakers is “no way of resolving issues”.
Rahul Gandhi was more scathing in his remarks, saying: “What is being done to the 25 MPs is being done to the whole of India...We will not end the pressure on (foreign minister) Sushma Swaraj, (Rajasthan chief minister) Vasundhara Raje and (Madhya Pradesh chief minister) Shivraj Singh Chouhan.”
The Congress has stalled proceedings in Parliament over its demand for the resignation of Swaraj and Raje, who have been accused of aiding tainted former IPL chief Lalit Modi, and Chouhan, who has been linked to the Vyapam recruitment and admission scam.
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“The Vyapam scam has destroyed the future of thousands in Madhya Pradesh. There is clear evidence that Sushma Swaraj-ji has broken the law. The Rajasthan chief minister is directly involved financially with Lalit Modi,” Rahul Gandhi alleged.
“I and the Congress are not asking for their resignations, the people are asking for their resignations. The Prime Minister is fond of ‘mann ki baat’ (speaking his mind), I would ask him to listen to the mann ki baat of the people of India,” he added.
Congress leader Kamal Nath told reporters that the suspension of MPs was unprecedented. “It’s a breakdown of parliamentary dialogue,” he said.
Senior party leader Mani Shankar Aiyar said Parliament could resume functioning if Swaraj put in her papers.
Watch:Sonia, Rahul slam govt; Congress says it's murder of democracy
The Speaker’s decision to suspend the Congress MPs worsened a bitter stand-off between the government and the main opposition party and dimmed chances of key bills being passed during the monsoon session.
But BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the minister of state for parliamentary affairs, said the resolution to suspend the MPs because of their “obstructionism and negativity” was unanimously passed.
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