Oppn MPs hold first-ever night protests near House
Colourful bed sheets were hurriedly brought from an MP’s flats from South Avenue. The aides also ensured enough supply of food for the MPs to sustain them.
With Opposition MPs continuing their sit-in protest near the Gandhi statue at the time of going to print, protests in Parliament saw its first-ever night shift on Monday, adding to the several “new normal” unveiled in the monsoon session.
Initially, the MPs refused to leave the House after being suspended by Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu for “gross disorderly conduct.” After the House was adjourned for the day, the MPs shifted base to near the Gandhi statue—the favourite spot for protests inside the Parliament complex.
It was a long haul but they didn’t look tired. They received a regular supply of snacks, packed juices and cold drinks as well as a steady stream of supportive leaders: Ahmed Patel, Gaurav Gogoi of Congress, Manoj Jha of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), and several Trinamool Congress leaders joined the protesting MPs to express solidarity.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee called up and spoke to the MPs staging the agitation. She also tweeted, “Suspension of the 8 MPs who fought to protect farmers interests is unfortunate & reflective of this autocratic Govt’s mindset that doesn’t respect democratic norms & principles. We won’t bow down & we’ll fight this fascist Govt in Parliament & on the streets.”
Colourful bed sheets were hurriedly brought from an MP’s flats from South Avenue. The aides also ensured enough supply of food for the MPs to sustain them. In the evening, Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s KK Ragesh told others that his wife was preparing idlis at home. He was asked to bring them after 7pm. Aam Aadmi Party’s Sanjay Singh spent time giving interviews, Trinamool’s Dola Sen started singing songs and protestors held placards screaming “We will fight for farmers”, “democracy murdered” and “parliament assassinated.”
Apart from packed thalis, boxful of snacks were also supplied. Trinamool Congress floor leader Derek O’Brien, one of the eight suspended MPs, announced, “We will continue to sit in protest overnight. Our protest will not end soon.”
Indian Parliament is no stranger to unique protests. In the 70s, Atal Bihari Vajpayee arrived in Parliament in a bullock cart to oppose the hike in fuel by the Indira Gandhi government. Last year, when the government was celebrating Constitution Day, Congress and other Opposition parties gathered near BR Ambedkar’s statue in the Parliament lawn and read out different articles of the Constitution.
Later in the day, leaders of 18 political parties, including the Congress, Left parties, Nationalist Congress Party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress, Shiv Sena and the RJD, submitted a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind, seeking his intervention in the matter.
The leaders urged the President to not grant his assent to the proposed legislations and expressed concern over the way farm bills were passed in the Rajya Sabha.
“We, belonging to diverse political parties cutting across India’s political and geographical spectrum, bring this representation to you to respectfully draw your urgent attention to the absolute and total murder of democracy, ironically in the most hallowed temple of democracy, Parliament,” read the memorandum.
“We pray that you return the bills and do not append your signature,” it added.