Hardening its stance against the demand to revoke the suspension of 12 Rajya Sabha MPs, the government on Wednesday said it was “unfortunate” that senior Opposition leaders are “not willing to repent” for the act of their colleagues during the Monsoon Session in August.
Leader of House in Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal alleged that the suspended MPs “pushed female marshals and attempted to strangulate male marshals” during the disruptions on August 11, charges that were contested by Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge.
Kharge said the Opposition was being subjected to “crimes that it did not commit”. He said: “The incidents of [August] 11th and 10th are two separate incidents. But in their allegations, they are referring to the incidents of 10th… The country and House are being misled. The action was taken based on the events of August 11.”
A short duration discussion on the situation arising out of cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 in the country was cut short and the House adjourned till Thursday after the Opposition MPs escalated their protests following Goyal’s statement.
The Opposition MPs also took umbrage over BJP MP Shiv Pratap Shukla calling them “Omicron”. RJD MP Manoj Jha questioned the appropriateness of Shukla’s remarks.
Earlier, after the short duration discussion was picked at 2 pm, Opposition members pointed out that Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya was absent from the House. The government said that he will show up, following which the House was adjourned for 15 minutes.
At 2.18 pm, when TMC MP Sushmita Dev was requested to initiate the discussion on Omicron, she said equally important was the issue of suspensions of MPs which should be revoked.
Goyal responded to her, saying the suspended members need to apologise first. “If certain members have done wrong, attacked these marshals, have insulted this House, they should apologise and we will be very benevolent towards the members and if they expect they will attack the members, they will insult lady marshals and then also they have the right to come back… It is quite unfortunate that senior members of the Opposition are not willing to repent for the acts of their colleagues,” he said.
He also invoked the 2001 Parliament attack in making his point that the House staff serve the members braving all odds and they deserve an apology from the suspended MPs as minimum courtesy.
Dev maintained that the action against the 12 MPs – six from the Congress, two each from TMC and Shiv Sena, and one each from the CPI and CPI(M) – was “undemocratic and illegal”.
Goyal again intervened, saying the government was willing to consider the request in the event of an apology. “How can they expect they will attack them and then expect them to serve the House? They gave up their lives for this sanctum sanctorum only for the Members of Parliament. It is a matter of shame that they are not willing to repent for their actions,” he said.
During the discussion on Omicron, after some of his party colleagues spoke, BJP’s Shiv Pratap Shukla targeted the Opposition. “We are discussing Omicron and Omicron is standing in front of us. Pure loktrantra ko khatra ho gaya in Omicronon se (these Omicrons are a threat for our democracy),” he said, referring to the protesting Opposition MPs.
The Opposition objected to the remarks, with RJD’s Jha saying Shukla had no right to speak like that. “Our senior member from BJP, while speaking on the debate, called all of us [Opposition] Omicron. Is it right to use such language,” Jha said, as he demanded that the suspension of the 12 Opposition MPs be revoked.