Winter session: Stalemate continues in Rajya Sabha over suspension of 12 MPs

Both the government and the opposition have hardened their respective stance—the former insisting on an apology and the latter adamant on not complying.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi takes part in a protest over suspension of 12 Rajya Sabha lawmakers at Parliament House in New Delhi on Thursday. (Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi takes part in a protest over suspension of 12 Rajya Sabha lawmakers at Parliament House in New Delhi on Thursday. (Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Dec 03, 2021 04:50 AM IST
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New Delhi: On the fourth day of the ongoing winter session of Parliament, the Rajya Sabha concluded the proceedings with the passage of the Dam Safety Bill, but not before the Opposition staged a walkout during the first half of the day in protest against the chair’s decision of not allowing a discussion on inflation and for not permitting the leader of the opposition to raise the issue of suspension of 12 lawmakers.

Also Read | Opposition lawmakers hold protest against suspension of Rajya Sabha members

The House was adjourned nine minutes after convening for business on Thursday, when the opposition parties objected to Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu not giving Leader of Opposition, Mallikarjun Kharge, a chance to speak on the suspension of 12 lawmakers. When the House reconvened at 12 noon, the Opposition pressed Deputy Chairman Harivansh, who was in the chair, to drop the Question Hour and take up a discussion on inflation. A walkout by a clutch of Opposition parties, including the Congress, RJD, NCP and TRS ensued when the chair did not permit the discussion. The Trinamool Congress and DMK also walked out separately.

With no end in sight to the stalemate between the government and the opposition, Naidu urged both sides to find a way to end the logjam over the suspension of 12 MPs. Both the government and the opposition have hardened their respective stance—the former insisting on an apology and the latter adamant on not complying. The suspended lawmakers also continued their sit-in protest outside the House.

Addressing the House, Naidu said, “It is human to err and it is also human to make amends. One cannot refuse to amend and insist on glossing over the wrong doings….I urge both the sides of this august House to talk it out and let the House do its mandated job.”

Also Read | ‘Talk it out’: Venkaiah Naidu’s advice to govt, Oppn on deadlock over suspension

As opposition members continued to stress that the suspension was not in order, Naidu said: “…Some of the respected leaders and members of this august House, in their wisdom, chose to describe the suspension of 12 members as ‘undemocratic’. I have struggled to understand if there was any justification in that kind of a narrative being propagated but could not.”

Opposition parties have closed ranks in the Upper House and dubbed the suspension as unfair and without following proper procedure; the government has stuck to its stand that the action will be reconsidered only when the suspended MPs apologise in the House.

“While calling this suspension as undemocratic both within and outside the House, not even a word is being said about the reasons given for the suspension, the disdainful conduct of some members during the last session, which I have categorically called as ‘acts of sacrilege’ on the last day of last session,” Naidu said.

The government expressed similar sentiments. A senior government functionary speaking on condition of anonymity said the opposition did not pay heed to parliamentary etiquette when they rushed towards the government side to protest.

“They keep bringing up the protests by the BJP when we were in opposition, but they forget to mention that we never went across to their side to raise slogans or show placards. There is a way to protest without breaching norms and etiquette,” the functionary said.

Opposition leaders, however, said they will take part in proceedings of the House without giving up their demand for a relook at the suspension. “ There is a broad agreement that the issue (suspension) will be raised without disrupting the session as it will allow us to participate in the discussions on the various bills that are being introduced for passage,” said an Opposition MP.

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    Smriti covers an intersection of politics and governance. Having spent over a decade in journalism, she combines old fashioned leg work with modern story telling tools.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2022