3 more Rajya Sabha MPs suspended amid din

Published on Jul 29, 2022 12:32 AM IST

Three more lawmakers were on Thursday suspended for the remainder of the week from the Rajya Sabha for “disrupting” the House by “showing placards”, making it the third suspension in as many days and taking the total number of suspended MPs in the Upper House to 23.

Opposition MPs holding placards stage a protest in the well of Rajya Sabha during the Monsoon Session of Parliament, in New Delhi on Thursday. (ANI)
Opposition MPs holding placards stage a protest in the well of Rajya Sabha during the Monsoon Session of Parliament, in New Delhi on Thursday. (ANI)

Three more lawmakers were on Thursday suspended for the remainder of the week from the Rajya Sabha for “disrupting” the House by “showing placards”, making it the third suspension in as many days and taking the total number of suspended MPs in the Upper House to 23.

The three suspended members are Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) lawmakers Sushil Kumar Gupta and Sandeep Kumar Pathak and independent MP Ajit Kumar Bhuyan.

This is for the first time that the act of “...displayed placards this morning” was specifically mentioned along with other acts of disruption in the motion moved for their suspension by the government. The motion for suspension also referred to other acts such as entering the well of the House and shouting slogans that disrupted the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha in “utter disregard to the House and the authority of the Chair”.

As the opposition continued with its demand to push for a discussion on a host of issues, including the hooch tragedy in Gujarat, and trooped into the well of the House, displaying placard and raising slogans during Zero Hour, Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu cautioned the MPs that they would be named and would have to leave the House. When the opposition persisted, the House was adjourned till 12 noon.

When the House reconvened, the government moved a motion to suspend the two AAP lawmakers and Bhuyan, who is an independent MP from Assam. Minister of state for parliamentary affairs V Muraleedharan moved the motion to suspend the three MPs, saying the House “has taken a serious note of the misconduct” of the MPs who “entered the well of the House, shouted slogans and displayed placards this morning, thereby disrupting the proceedings of the House…”

The motion was passed by a voice vote and deputy chairman Harivansh, who was presiding, said a division would only be allowed if the opposition members are in their respective seats. He then named the three members for holding placards and shouting slogans in the well.

While the opposition members protested against the suspension saying their voices were going unheard in the House, a government functionary said as per Parliamentary Customs and Conventions as codified in the ‘Handbook for the Members of Rajya Sabha’, production of exhibits on the floor of the House is not in order and the members are required to note and observe these customs and conventions.

The opposition has begun a relay protest to express solidarity with the 27 suspended MPs — 23 from the Rajya Sabha and four from the Lok Sabha. A day-and-night protest will continue till Friday, when the suspension gets revoked.

“The Chairman has been all along objecting to the members holding placards during the proceedings of the House. Whenever it so happened, he urged the members to desist from the same. He raised this matter in his meetings with the leaders of opposition and asked them to advise members of respective parties to stop displaying placards,” the functionary said, requesting anonymity.

Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge met Naidu earlier in the day seeking revocation of the suspension of MPs this week. While 19 members were suspended on Tuesday, one was suspended on Wednesday.

“Naidu underlined the gravity of unruly behaviour by some members in the House and reiterated that revocation of suspension could be considered only if the suspended members regret their conduct in the House,” the functionary added.

A government official speaking on condition of anonymity said with the Chairman having referred to the rule against displaying placards, there is a possibility that it may be used while taking action in the future as well.

AAP’s Sanjay Singh tweeted that so far 75 people have died due to poisonous liquor in Gujarat and when Gupta and Pathak raised their voice on this issue in the House, the BJP government suspended them too. “...suspend, we will not bend, we will not stop,” he said in a tweet in Hindi.

On Wednesday, Union parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi also said the opposition members should express regret. Responding to him, Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Derek O’Brien tweeted: “For 27 days in Budget Session, Govt ducked discussion on #PriceRise Now for 7 days in MonsoonSession same stalling tactics by Modi Govt. When Oppn asked Govt to discus, they suspend 24 MPs & then have the gall to ask us to apologize. Govt must apologize for mocking Parliament.”

A Congress MP, requesting anonymity, said the party will not express regret.

Of the 19 members suspended for “misconduct” on Tuesday, seven are from the TMC, six from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), three from the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), two from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and one from the Communist Party of India (CPI). A day later, AAP’s Sanjay Singh was suspended for the same reason.

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