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Home / India News / More chaos in House as 8 MPs suspended

More chaos in House as 8 MPs suspended

Trinamool Congress floor leader Derek O’Brien and his colleague Dola Sen; Aam Aadmi Party’s Sanjay Singh; Congress’s Rajeev Satav, Syed Nasir Hussain and Ripun Borah; and KK Ragesh and Elamaram Kareem of the CPI(M) were suspended for seven days each.

india Updated: Sep 22, 2020, 05:09 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
In the House on Monday, Naidu condemned actions of the eight MPs and read out a list of “offences” he said the members were guilty of.
In the House on Monday, Naidu condemned actions of the eight MPs and read out a list of “offences” he said the members were guilty of.(ANI)

Eight opposition MPs were on Monday suspended from the Rajya Sabha — the most in the history of the Upper House — for the remainder of Parliament’s monsoon session for “gross disorderly conduct” during protests against two contentious farm bills the previous day, triggering a fresh confrontation between the government and the Opposition.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress accused each other of not upholding democratic norms after action was ordered by Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu against the MPs from four opposition parties for their Sunday protest, in which they stormed the Well of the House and charged towards the Chair, which was occupied by deputy chairman Harivansh.

The suspended MPs refused to leave the House on Monday on the grounds that the action was unilateral and without considering their version of what transpired. After House proceedings were halted, they brought bedsheets, snacks, and water, and sat beside the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Parliament House, where they said they intended to stay through the night. They were still in the premises till late evening.

 

Trinamool Congress floor leader Derek O’Brien and his colleague Dola Sen; Aam Admi Party’s Sanjay Singh; Congress’s Rajeev Satav, Syed Nasir Hussain and Ripun Borah; and KK Ragesh and Elamaram Kareem of the CPI(M) were suspended for seven days each.

The last time a large group of MPs was suspended from the Upper House was in 2010, when seven MPs from three parties were barred for the rest of their session over their protests against the Women’s Reservation Bill.

On Sunday, Parliament marshals formed a double-layered barricade to protect Harivansh, who was presiding over the proceedings when the MPs charged at him, ostensibly for not paying heed to their demand for a division of votes on the two agricultural reform bills. The bills were passed by voice vote, without being referred to a select committee of Parliament.

In the House on Monday, Naidu condemned actions of the eight MPs and read out a list of “offences” he said the members were guilty of.

“Some members came into the Well of the House. They also threw papers. They wrenched the mike of the deputy chairman. They hurled some papers at the deputy chairman. They also abused the deputy chairman also and the Rule Book was also thrown at him,” the chairman said.

Declaring that he was “pained yesterday”, which he called a “really a bad day for the Rajya Sabha,” Naidu said: “I am worried that he (Harivansh) would have been harmed also.”

The day began with the government moving a resolution seeking the suspension of the eight MPs for “unruly behaviour especially with the Chair and their gross disorderly conduct in violation of the rules and etiquettes of Rajya Sabha”.

Amid furious protests, Naidu named O’Brien and repeatedly requested him to leave the House. O’Brien refused to go, while several opposition members demanded that their side also be heard.

As chaos prevailed, Naidu also rejected the no-confidence motion by opposition MPs against deputy chairman Harivansh. “As per the provisions of Article 90 (c) of the Constitution, a notice period of 14 days is required for moving a resolution, not a motion. As the House is going to be adjourned sine die on October 1 as per the present schedule, notice does not complete the required period of 14 days,” Naidu said.

Leaders of 18 political parties, including the Congress, the Left parties, NCP, DMK, Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress, Shiv Sena and the RJD, submitted a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind, seeking his intervention in the matter.

“We pray that you return the bills and do not append your signature,” it added.

Congress chief whip Jairam Ramesh said the eight opposition MPs were suspended without being heard . “The Murder Of Democracy in India rolls on.” CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said: “By suspending MPs if the government hopes to silence the Opposition, it shall not succeed.”

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi lashed out at the government. “Muting Of Democratic India continues: by initially silencing and later, suspending MPs in the Parliament & turning a blind eye to farmers’ concerns on the black agriculture laws. This ‘omniscient’ Govt’s endless arrogance has brought economic disaster for the entire country,” he tweeted.

The Congress alleged that the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman tried to “muzzle and throttle the voices of the opposition parties at the behest of” the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

BJP’s Bhpender Yadav hit back at the Congress. “My leader and my party have a tradition of following democratic principles. We were in the House and debating the Bills following the point of order set by the Chair. Who started the hooliganism is for everyone to see,” he said.

Parliamentary affairs minister, Prahlad Joshi, defended the suspensions. “When the Chairman names a member, then that member has to leave the house. Never before (has) a member defied the orders of the Chair. Eight suspended MPs had misbehaved, it was a type of goondaism {hooliganism}. They have proved that they have no trust in democracy.”

In a media briefing on Monday evening, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the suspended MPs had no right to talk about democratic processes. “Suspended MPs who assaulted the dy chairman of Rajya Sabha yesterday refused to follow the orders of the chairman today and created ruckus despite directions to leave the house. They have no moral authority to talk about democracy if they can’t respect the institutions of democracy.”

The suspension of the MPs was carried out after invoking section 256 of the rule book, which allows the chairperson to ask an MP to leave the house for unruly behaviour. Rule 256 provides for the suspension of a member; it says: “If the chairman may, if he deems it necessary, name a member who disregards the authority of the Chair or abuses the rules of the Council by persistently and wilfully obstructing the business thereof.”

Commenting on the suspensions, PDT Acharya, a former Lok Sabha general secretary, said: “There were unruly scenes on the floor of the House. These things have been happening and don’t always end up in suspension; the choice to take action is also a political decision.”

On the Opposition’s charge that their demand for a division of votes had gone unheeded, Achraya said that as per the rules, the Chair cannot deny a division. “If the chair has done that, then it is a cause for addressing. As per the Constitution if a member has asked for division, the chair has to agree.”

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