Suspended Rajya Sabha MPs on sit-in outside Parliament refuse deputy chairman’s tea
Aam Aadmi Party MP Sanjay Singh told a news agency that the they are protesting to protect the rights of the farmers and against the way the “black laws“ were passed in ParliamentUpdated: Sep 22, 2020, 11:09 IST
Rajya Sabha deputy chairman Harivansh on Tuesday met eight opposition lawmakers, who staged an all-night sit-in on the lawns of Parliament after they were suspended a day earlier for the remainder of the ongoing monsoon session for charging at him during protests against the passage of two of the three contentious farm bills in the upper House on Sunday. He offered the lawmakers tea and snacks. The lawmakers declined the refreshment and appeared unwilling to end their protest even as Harivansh said he will undertake a day-long fast over the “humiliating conduct against him”.
Aam Aadmi Party’s Sanjay Singh, who is among the eight, said the issue is not about personal equations but concerns for farmers. He added they are protesting to protect the farmers’ rights and against the way “black laws“ were passed in Parliament in violation of rules and procedures following the rejection of their demand for putting the bills to vote.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted about Harivansh’s large-heartedness in offering tea to the suspended lawmakers and congratulated him.
Singh reacted to Modi’s tweet saying they are not fighting for tea. “We are fighting for the welfare of our farmers, which you have taken away. I humbly request you - I am returning your tea with all due respect, please return my farmers’ morsel,” he tweeted.
Singh, Derek O’Brien, and Dola Sen (Trinamool Congress); Congress’s Rajeev Satav, Syed Nasir Hussain, and Ripun Borah; and KK Ragesh and Elamaram Kareem of the Communist Party of India (M) were suspended for seven days for “gross disorderly conduct”. They stormed the Well of the House and charged towards Harivansh, who was presiding over the proceedings on Sunday. Parliament marshals formed a double-layered barricade to protect Harivansh. The lawmakers were angry as their demand for the division of votes on the bills was ignored. The bills were passed by voice vote while the opposition wanted them to be referred to a select committee.
Harivansh wrote to Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, who is also the Rajya Sabha chairman about the fast citing anguish over the “humiliating” conduct against him.
Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker Shobha Karandlanje lauded Harivansh for his magnanimity in offering the suspended parliamentarians tea. “A magnanimous Gesture by Harivansh Ji! Deputy Chairman of RS [Rajya Sabha] brings tea for the same MPs who heckled, ill-treated & carried out undignified attack on him in the house. Committed Gandhian met those who targeted him & told that he’s here as a friend of them!” she tweeted.
Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill tweeted, “Offering Tea will not whitewash the act of Curbing Democracy-Voices raising issues of 62 Crore Farmers cannot be muted & attention cannot be diverted #FarmBill2020 #FarmersProtest.”
Naidu called Sunday a “really a bad day for the Rajya Sabha” and said he was worried that Harivansh would have been harmed also. He said his deputy was also abused and the Rule Book was thrown at him.
Naidu on Monday named O’Brien and repeatedly requested him to leave the House. O’Brien refused to go, while opposition members demanded that they be heard as well. Naidu also rejected the no-confidence motion against Harivansh.
The suspended lawmakers refused to leave the House on Monday calling the action against them unilateral. They said the version of what had transpired was not considered. They brought bedsheets, snacks, and water, and began the sit-in near the Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in Parliament House.
The suspension triggered a fresh confrontation between BJP and the opposition Congress as they accused each other of violating democratic norms. The Congress said the lawmakers were suspended without being heard and accused Harivansh of muzzling and throttling the voices of the opposition parties at the behest of the Prime Minister’s Office.
This is the highest number of lawmakers to be suspended from the Upper House since 2010. Seven lawmakers from three parties were barred for the rest of their session over their protests against the Women’s Reservation Bill in 2010.