The Congress-led opposition on Tuesday walked out from both houses of Parliament to protest the suspension of 12 opposition MPs from the Rajya Sabha and boycotted the day’s proceedings in the Upper House after the chairman asked them to apologise. After the walkout, opposition MPs demonstrated in front of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue inside Parliament complex, raising slogans against the government and its “dictatorial attitude” and saying they would continue to raise their voices on the matter.
Eight opposition party leaders led by Mallikarjun Kharge met Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and urged him to revoke the suspension. Naidu, sources said, told them that it may not be possible without proper functioning of the House and a sincere regret for their misconduct. “Apology for what? For raising the issues of the people in Parliament? Never,” Congress leader Rahul Gandhi declared in a tweet in Hindi.
Upset at their demand of the revocation of suspension not being met, opposition members decided to boycott the day’s proceedings of the Rajya Sabha in protest. In the Lok Sabha, however, the opposition, led by the Congress, decided to participate in discussions. Of the 12 MPs suspended for the entire winter session on Monday, six are from the Congress, two each from the TMC and Shiv Sena and one each from the CPM and the CPI. In the Lok Sabha, TMC members neither joined the protests nor walked out. In the Rajya Sabha, the party’s members staged a walkout a short while after the other opposition MPs. Its leader Derek O’Brien said it’s not the opposition but the 80 MPs of the treasury benches who should be suspended as they blocked certain discussions during the previous monsoon session.
The party would stage its protests from Wednesday, he added on Twitter. “Starting tomorrow 1 Dec, from 10 am to 6 pm Mon-Fri- the 12 Opposition MPs suspended from Rajya Sabha will sit in dharna in front of Mahatma Gandhi statue Parliament,” O’Brien tweeted. A day after the suspension, several Congress leaders spoke on the issue and maintained that the move was against the rules and practices of the House. Accusing the government of adopting the path of confrontation with the opposition, the Congress said talk of cooperation in the smooth running of the House “is a sham”.
“We and other opposition leaders opposed the suspension of MPs in Rajya Sabha and under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi and TR Baalu staged a walkout in the Lok Sabha. “We have decided to oppose the way democracy has been tattered in Rajya Sabha by suspending 12 MPs. We have decided to oppose such dictatorial attitude of the government,” Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, said after the walkout. This government, he added, is not giving opposition MPs the opportunity to speak inside the house.
“The government wants to threaten the opposition and suppress their voice by suspending its members in Rajya Sabha. We cannot keep quiet about the suspension of our members in the Rajya Sabha,” Chowdhury told reporters outside Parliament. Congress chief whip in the Rajya Sabha Jairam Ramesh said they would boycott the Rajya Sabha for the entire day.
“All Opposition parties, including TMC and BSP walked out of Rajya Sabha and won’t attend proceedings today to protest against manner in which 12 MPs were suspended for entire session. Bills passed undemocratically. Then repealed undemocratically. Those who raise their voices suspended. This is New India,” Ramesh tweeted. His party colleague Anand Sharma, Congress deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha, said the opposition is seriously concerned over the developments. What has happened is in violation of precedents, rules and practices, Sharma said.
“We have urged the chairman to revoke the suspension and the opposition protest will continue. The rules don’t allow to take action against members over what happened in the last session,” Sharma said. He alleged that the government had embarked on the path of confrontation with the opposition. The 12 MPs suspended for the remaining part of the winter session for their misconduct and unruly behaviour during the last session include Congress’ Chhaya Verma, Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi and TMC’s Dola Sen.