Congress-led Opposition to boycott Rajya Sabha over suspension of 12 MPs; govt defends suspensions

The decision to boycott was taken at a morning meeting of opposition parties which the TMC did not attend

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 30

The Congress-led opposition will boycott proceedings of the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday in protest against the suspension of 12 MPs on Monday.

Congress chief whip in Rajya Sabha Jairam Ramesh confirmed the decision saying, “All opposition parties, including TMC and BSP walked out of Rajya Sabha and won’t attend proceedings today to protest against the manner in which 12 MPs were suspended for entire session, and farm bills were passed undemocratically and then repealed undemocratically. Those who raise their voices have been suspended. This is New India.”

The decision to boycott was taken at a morning meeting of opposition parties which the TMC did not attend.

The 16 party attendees at the meeting were the INC, DMK, Shiv Sena, NCP, CPM, CPI, RJD, IUML, MDMK, LJD, NC, RSP, TRS, Kerala Congress, VCK and AAP.

The opposition decided not to apologise for their misconduct on the last day of the monsoon session, August 11, 2020.

The government in a motion on Monday cited MPs’ misconduct to move a motion to suspend them for the remainder of the session.

The government also rejected the opposition charges of selective action saying the suspensions pertained to MPs’ misconduct on the last day of the session, and suspensions were done at the first available opportunity which was the first day of the Winter Session on Monday.

Government sources also said the opposition should look within.

“We did not propose to suspend people for one year. The NCP-Shiv Sena-Congress government in Maharashtra suspended 12 MLAs for a whole year and in the instant case, the erring MPs were given opportunities to apologise for their conduct or join a committee. They refused to do both. In such a case it becomes the obligation of the government to preserve the dignity of the Chair. Everyone would recall how distressed Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu was on August 11. We need not remind anyone,” government sources said.

The motion to suspend the MPs came on Monday in the Rajya Sabha after Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi recorded the misconduct of 12 MPs in a letter to Chairman Naidu.

The letter records “unprecedented misconduct by the said MPs” and condemns their actions ranging from—assault on marshals, attempts to pull out LED TV screen installed in the Rajya Sabha chamber, forming of a noose by a woman MP and putting it around the neck of a fellow MP, tearing and flinging of papers.

“On August 11, some MPs crossed all limits of parliamentary decorum and decency during the discussions on the General Insurance Business Amendment Bill. The 254th session of Rajya Sabha would indeed be counted as the most reprehensible and shameful session in our parliamentary history. The disgrace caused is irreversible and no amount of condemnation and repentance can undo the damage. The unruly acts, standing on the table, throwing papers at the Chair, preventing parliament staff from performing their duties, coupled with violent behaviour of some MPs, terrifying and injuring staff members have brought disrepute to Indian democracy. The unfathomable circumstances demand exemplary remedy,” Joshi said in his letter to Naidu before the government moved the suspension motion.

The suspended MPs are Chhaya Verma, Phulo Devi Nehtam, Ripun Bora, Nasir Hussain, Rajamani Patel and Akhilesh Prasad Singh of the Congress, CPM’s Elamaram Karim, CPI’s Binoy Viswam, TMC’s Dola Sen and Shanta Chhetri, and Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi and Anil Desai.

The 16 opposition parties that met on Tuesday morning argued they had not been given a hearing.

Government sources, however, said the chances to apologise were many.

“Moreover, the opposition even refused to join the committee the government has proposed to look into the issue and suggest code of conduct for the future. They could have presented their part before the panel but you won’t apologise and you won’t join the committee and will say let bygones be bygones. That won’t happen. Limits were crossed on August 11,” a government source said.

The opposition leaders protested at Gandhi statue outside Parliament chamber on Tuesday against the suspensions.

The 12 suspended MPs will start a sit-in protest outside Parliament at the Gandhi statue from Wednesday. TMC leader Derek O Brien said “Starting tomorrow 1 Dec, from 10 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday the 12 Opposition MPs suspended from Rajya Sabha will sit in dharna in front of Mahatma Gandhi statue Parliament.”

Earlier, Congress-led opposition walked out of both Houses of Parliament over the suspension of MPs.



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