New Delhi, August 3
Confrontation between the government and opposition is set to escalate with Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Monday suspending 25 Congress members for five days for “persistently, wilfully obstructing the House”.
The Speaker ‘named’ (identifying for action) the 25 Congress members who were carrying placards and shouting slogans in the Well while pressing for resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje over the Lalit Modi row and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the Vyapam scam.
While taking the tough action under Rule 374(A), she said the members were being suspended for “persistently, wilfully obstructing the House”.
She ruled that the ‘named’ members will not attend five sittings of the House. The Congress has 44 members in all.
Mahajan adjourned the House immediately after. However, a number of the Congress members staged a sit-in in the House.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi also did not leave the House for quite some time and were seen holding discussions with leaders of some other opposition parties.
Her action came after several warnings and despite pleas by TMC leader Sudip Bandhyopadhyay and CPI(M) leader P Karunakaran that it would aggravate the situation.
The Rule 374(A) says: “Notwithstanding anything contained in rules 373 and 374, in the event of grave disorder occasioned by a member coming into the well of the House or abusing the Rules of the House persistently and wilfully obstructing its business by shouting slogans or otherwise, such member shall, on being named by the Speaker, stand automatically suspended from the service of the House for five consecutive sittings or the remainder of the session, whichever is less.”
The move came after the government approached the Speaker slamming the Opposition for obstructing the House for the past several days.
Such a major action is the first in the current Lok Sabha.
The suspended members included BN Chandrappa, Santok Singh Chaudhary, AHK Choudhury, Sushmita Dev, Ninog Ering, R Dhruvanarayana, Gaurav Gogoi, G Sukender Reddy, Deepender Hooda, S Kodikunnil, SP Muddahanumegowda, Abhijit Mukherjee, Mullappally Ramachandran, KH Munniyappa, BV Nayak, Vincent Pala, MK Raghavan, Ranjeet Ranjan, CL Ruala, T Sahu, Rajee Satav, Ravneet Singh K Suresh, KC Venugopal and T Meinya.
Sonia Gandhi was angry at the Speaker's decision and asked Leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge to lodge protest.
Kharge, while objecting to the Speaker’s action, said “our demand is that the ministers resign. Then everything will be peaceful”.
Amid the bedlam, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said there is no FIR, no court observation and no prima facie case against Swaraj as well as the two Chief Ministers and hence there is “no justification” for them to resign.
He said the CVC, too, has not pointed out any wrongdoing.
“We have not shied away from discussion and we are ready for it.” Singh said while the Opposition has an important role in parliamentary democracy, the House should be allowed to function.
His response came when Kharge opposed the Speaker’s move to name MPs from his party for disrupting the proceedings.
Before naming them, the Speaker repeatedly told Congress members not to display placards and return to their seats.
“Don’t force me to take stringent action... you cannot say they disrupted proceedings so we will also do the same... we cannot denegrade ourselves further,” Mahajan said.
Bandhopadhyay and Karunakaran urged the Speaker not to suspend the members and the warring parties should be given a change to resolve issue as they are “experienced politicians”.
Karunakaran recalled that the BJP had stalled Lok Sabha as opposition party for one month and such an action in the present Lok Sabha could be avoided.
The Speaker said if they are ready to take guarantee for the Congress members, she could have a rethink.
Some members from the Left parties were also in the Well raising slogans against the government but were not displaying placards.
Earlier last week, Congress member Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was suspended for a day after he banged a placard against the table of the Speaker.
Today, as soon as the House met at 2 pm after an adjournment due to pandemonium, Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai was in the Chair to supervise the proceedings.
When the House took up Calling Attention Motion by BS Yeddyurappa (BJP) on drought and flood conditions in Karnataka as a result of which farmers are committing suicide, opposition members rushed to the Well shouting slogans.
Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said while the House is discussing the issue pertaining to farmers, Opposition members were disrupting the House.
Yeddyurappa said while Rahul Gandhi visits various states to take stock of farmers’ problems, he had never been to Karnataka which is a Congress-ruled state. Rahul was not present in the House when the remarks were made against him.
Responding to the motion, Singh said while in 2014-15 the state was given Rs 14,000 crore as its share of taxes, the amount has been hiked to Rs 24,000 crore. “The money has been given not to do business but to help farmers,” he said.
Interestingly, TRS members, who had been demanding a separate High Court for Telangana by holding placards, were standing on the aisles of the Treasury benches. Soon External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, sitting on the front benches, led them out of the Lok Sabha chamber.
As the proceedings continued, Congress members upped their attack by increasing the pitch of their slogans. They even banged the posters in front of the Chair. Hooda, one of those suspended, made a megaphone out of the poster to raise slogans before the Chair.
Congress members objected to Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy talking to Left members in the Well in an apparent bid to convince them to return to their seats.
Kharge accused the minister of “threatening” the Left members of suspension, which Rudy denied.
Just before the Speaker took over the proceedings from Thambidurai, there was a lot of activity with several BJP leaders going to the Speaker's room.
As Soon as Mahajan took over the proceedings, she was handed over the list of “INC members” who were in the Well and she ‘named’ them for action.
8 Opposition parties to boycott Lok Sabha proceedings: Kharge
Mallikarjun Kharge claimed that eight opposition parties are boycotting proceedings in Lok Sabha over suspension of 25 Congress MPs.
Back the Congress on the issue of expulsion of its 25 members from Lok Sabha, TMC and NCP said they will boycott the House for five days if the decision not reversed.
TMC chief Mamata Banerjee approved the party decision to boycott Lok Sabha for five days in support of expelled Congress MPs.
The Aam Admi Party has also decided to support the Congress over the suspension of MPs. — PTI