Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Monday suspended six Congress Lok Sabha MPs for five days after they stormed the Well, tore papers and hurled them towards the Chair during their protests over the “increasing incidences of mob lynching”. The Congress MPs were in the Well raising slogans against the government and protesting lynching incidents, after their calls for an adjournment motion on the issue had been disallowed
The Speaker ruled that the conduct of MPs Gaurav Gogoi, K Suresh, Adhir Rajan Chowdhury, Ranjeet Ranjan, Sushmita Dev and M K Raghavan was “highly unbecoming” and had undermined the Chair’s dignity. “Gaurav Gogoi snatched papers from the table, tore them into bits and flung them towards the Chair. K Suresh did the same thing. Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Ranjeet Ranjan, Sushmita Dev, and M K Raghavan tore papers and threw them towards the Chair,” she said.
She added that these members had disregarded the fact that both she and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar had agreed to a discussion under proper notice on the lynching issue. “They may forthwith withdraw from the precincts of the House,” she said. The Speaker invoked Rule 374-A Of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha for the suspension. The rule states: “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 Congress members kept shouting slogans, creating a din, while BJP members responded to the Speaker’s action with a chorus of “shame, shame”. K C Venugopal of the Congress was heard asking the Speaker to suspend all the Congress members. The whole chain of events took place in the first-half of the day, while the announcement of the Speaker’s action came in the second-half.
Mahajan later told the media outside the House: “I am sad and deeply hurt and unable to understand why this happened. I did not prevent them from raising any issue. I told them they can raise the issues they want but only after the Question Hour”. She said Question Hour is normally not suspended, according to rules of the Parliament’s Rules Committee which includes members of all parties and that she was only following them. The Speaker pointed out that President Pranab Mukherjee in his farewell speech had on Sunday said the proceedings in Parliament should not be disrupted.
The suspension marked the climax of the proceedings since morning, which began on a stormy note. When Mahajan firmly told Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge that his adjournment motion on the lynching issue had been disallowed, his party members came in to the Well and took to slogan-shouting. The Speaker carried on with Question Hour as well as Zero Hour.
At one stage, they also squatted on the floor to press for an immediate discussion on the issue. In between, they were also joined by MPs of the Trinamool Congress, Left parties, RJD, JD(U) and the SP. However, the NCP did not participate in the protest action.
The Congress members took to the extreme action in desperation as all their attempts to get the Houses adjourned failed. Their slogan-shouting was louder than it generally is. Congress president Sonia Gandhi was seen overseeing the protests. Even while they tore papers and hurled them at the chair, the Speaker did not oblige. She, instead, said that the unruly scenes should be aired so that people could see what respect they were showing for Parliament.
Around 12.50 pm, she adjourned the House till 2 pm. She pronounced her order as soon as the House reassembled at 2 pm and then adjourned it till 2.30 pm due to the noisy protests by Congress members. When the House met again at 2.30 pm, Congress members were joined by Left MPs in protesting the suspension, prompting Deputy Speaker M Thambi Durai to adjourn the House for the day.
Speaking to reporters later, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar attacked Congress chief Sonia Gandhi for “letting” party members throw paper at the Speaker in the Lok Sabha. Hitting out at Gandhi, Kumar alleged she remained in her seat while her party’s members created a ruckus in the Well of the House and did not try to stop them. “It is painful that she did nothing… It was a black day in the history of Indian democracy,” he said.
The Parliamentary Affairs minister claimed that the BJP never disrespected and defied the Chair like this during its 10 years in the opposition when the UPA was in power.