Deepening the political divide and setting the stage for more stormy days in the monsoon session of Parliament, 19 Opposition MPs were suspended for a week from Rajya Sabha Tuesday, a day after four Congress MPs were suspended from Lok Sabha for the remainder of the current session for alleged misconduct.
The 19 MPs, suspended for disrupting House proceedings while pressing for an urgent discussion on price rise and the hike in GST rates, are Sushmita Dev, Mausam Noor, Shanta Chhetri, Dola Sen, Santanu Sen, Abhi Ranjan Biswar and Md. Nadimul Haque (all 7 from TMC); M Hamamed Abdulla, S Kalyanasundaram, R Girranjan, N R Elango, M Shanmugam and Kanimozhi (all 6 from DMK); B Lingaiah Yadav, Ravichandra Vaddiraju, Damodar Rao Divakonda (all 3 from TRS); A A Rahim and V Sivadasan (both from CPM); and, Santhosh Kumar P from CPI.
Deputy Chairman Harivansh repeatedly asked the Opposition MPs to return to their seats but when they refused, he asked the treasury benches to move a motion for their suspension.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V Muraleedharan moved a motion to suspend 10 MPs from the sitting of the House for the remainder of the week for their “misconduct” by showing “utter disregard to the House and authority of the chair”. But when Harivansh put the motion to vote, he read out the names of 19 members.
The suspended MPs refused to leave, leading to three adjournments — first for 15 minutes by Harivansh, then for an hour and finally, for the day by Bhubaneswar Kalita, who was in the chair.
Union Minister Piyush Goyal, Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha, said the decision to suspend the 19 Opposition MPs was taken with a “heavy heart” as they repeatedly ignored the Chair’s appeals to let the House function and infringed on the rights of other members.
“The government is ready for a debate on price rise once Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recovers (from Covid) and returns to Parliament,” he said.
Members of the Opposition called the suspension decision “deplorable”.
In a Twitter post, the TMC said “you can suspend us but you cannot silence us”. Underlining that MPs “trying to flag people’s issues… are being suspended,” it called it a “deplorable situation”. “For how long will this go on? The sanctity of the Parliament stands heavily compromised,” the TMC said in its tweet.
CPI MP Binoy Viswam said, “BJP is craving for a Parliament without Opposition” and “19 Opposition members including Santhosh Kumar of CPI are suspended for that purpose only”. He said the BJP doesn’t want any discussion on GST or price rise.
On Monday, four Congress MPs were suspended from Lok Sabha for the remaining part of the current session. Manickam Tagore, Ramya Haridas, T N Prathapan and S Jothimani were named by the Chair, under Rule 374, for displaying placards in the House.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi read out a motion, seeking their suspension for the rest of the session, which was passed by a voice vote.
Such incidents have occurred in the past as well. In November last year, 12 Opposition members of Rajya Sabha were suspended after some of them climbed on the table, flung papers and damaged property. In January 2019, Sumitra Mahajan, the then Lok Sabha Speaker, had suspended 45 Members of the TDP and AIADMK for disrupting proceedings for days.