Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday accused the BJP government of “suppressing” the opposition’s voice in Parliament. In a rare sight, he led a joint protest by the Congress and the Trinamool Congress outside the House, but the chinks in the opposition armour came to the fore as the Left parties, wary of being seen with the TMC, backed out from the joint protest at the last minute.
The MPs of the Left parties were slated to join the protest in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue at 10.30 am, but did not turn up. Rarely seen or heard in Parliament, Rahul, mouth covered with a black band, joined the Congress and TMC leaders for a symbolic protest which lasted hardly five minutes. He later attended the House wearing the black cloth over his mouth.
“We are not being allowed to express our views in the house. Every time we try to say something, we are being suppressed… And the basic mode in which the Government is operating is to not allow democratic process inside the House, to not let people’s expression. That is the attitude. And it is a mindset of the top leadership of the country that democratic conversation should not be allowed..We are going to fight at every inch,” Rahul said.
While the Left members did not want to be seen in Trinamool’s company outside the House, they continued to coordinate with other parties inside. The decision not to join the protest, sources said, was taken after the West Bengal CPM unit decided that it cannot be seen alongside the TMC in a hate speech protest when it is locked in its own fight in the state against Trinamool MP Tapas Paul. Paul had, during the Lok Sabha elections, allegedly threatened to rape and kill CPM supporters.
“Trinamool and the CPM cannot gel together. We are still fighting the Tapas Paul issue in court. In the 14th Lok Sabha, there was immediate action on these issues. Basically TMC and the BJP are indulging in petty politics at the cost of major national issues. TMC is using the Sadhvi issue to pinch BJP and the BJP is using Saradha to pinch TMC back. We are not a part of all this, we will take a stand inside the House against hate speech but not align with the TMC outside,” CPM MP Mohammad Salim told The Indian Express.
He added that the morning protest was an initiative of the TMC and the Congress. “Dharna was not announced in the meeting. We have participated in all other protests, including boycott in the Lok Sabha,” he said.