RS Deputy Chairman Harivansh offers tea to the suspended MPs after their overnight sit-in.
Dozens of Delhi Congress leaders and workers marching towards Parliament on Monday to protest against the new farm Bills were also detained by the police. Led by Delhi Congress president Anil Kumar, the protesters were marching towards the Parliament building but were stopped on R P Road and detained.
Eight opposition MPs in Rajya Sabha, including TMC leader Derek O’Brien and Sanjay Singh of AAP, were suspended on Monday for the remainder of the Monsoon session for “unruly behaviour” during the passage of two farm bills, prompting the suspended leaders to go on an indefinite sit-in inside Parliament complex. A motion for the suspension of the eight leaders — Rajeev Satav, Syed Nasir Hussain and Ripun Bora (all Congress), Dola Sen and O’Brien (TMC), KK Ragesh and Elamaram Kareen (both CPM), and Singh, was moved by the government and approved by a voice vote in the House.
This came after Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu rejected a notice for a no-confidence motion against Deputy Chairman Harivansh as it was not in proper format and did not give a 14-day notice period. The Monsoon session is scheduled to end on October 1. However, the session is likely to be curtailed with several MPs testing positive for the coronavirus. Opposition members, objecting to the manner in which the two farm bills were being passed, had on Sunday stormed the well of the House and when their demand for voting wasn’t met, they tore papers, climbed on tables, shouted slogans, and allegedly threw the rule book at Harivansh, who was presiding at that time.
Condemning their behaviour, Naidu said Harivansh had later informed him that he was “abused with objectionable words” and “would have been harmed also”. Opposition parties hit out at the government over the suspension of the eight Rajya Sabha MPs and sat in for an “indefinite” protest on Parliament premises against the move.
Carrying pillows and blankets at the protest site, the eight MPs shouted slogans and even broke into songs as they protested in front of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in Parliament complex. “We will not budge,” they asserted. “Suspension won’t silence us. We will stand with farmers in their fight. The (Rajya Sabha) deputy chairman throttled parliamentary procedures on Sunday,” said CPI(M) MP Elamaram Kareem, who is among those suspended.
“Suspension of MPs exposed the coward face of the BJP. People will see through the attempt to divert attention from their undemocratic actions,” he said. Sources said the suspended members cannot attend House proceedings as well as parliamentary committee meetings, but there is no bar on them to enter the Parliament complex and hold a peaceful protest.
Opposition parties like the Congress, CPI (M), Shiv Sena, JDS, TMC, CPI, and the Samajwadi Party also protested in Parliament premises carrying placards with messages such as “Murder of Democracy”, “Death of Parliament” and “Shame, shame”. Soon after the Zero Hour, Naidu said he was “pained” at the happenings during the passage of The Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020.
“Is it parliamentary standard,” he asked and told members to do some introspection. Meanwhile, the government accused opposition leaders of irresponsible conduct in the Rajya Sabha during the passage of the farm bills and said they violated rules by not vacating the House despite being suspended.
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the conduct of opposition leaders in the Upper House was “shameful” and “irresponsible”. “We had a clear majority in Rajya Sabha on farm bills,” he said, adding that 110 members supported the bills and a little over 70 opposed it.
According to sources in government, there have been at least ten instances when members have been suspended from Rajya Sabha during the tenure of Congress-led governments. The Congress termed “undemocratic” and “one-sided” the suspension of the eight MPs, with Rahul Gandhi saying the “muting of democratic India continues by initially silencing and later suspending the parliamentarians.