A day after the no-confidence motion against him was rejected, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh on Tuesday served tea to the eight Opposition MPs who spent the night next to the Gandhi statue in Parliament in protest against their suspension.
The MPs were suspended for the remainder of the Monsoon session for their “unruly behaviour” during the passage of two key farm Bills in the Upper House.
The gesture earned him praise from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “To personally serve tea to those who attacked and insulted him a few days ago as well as those sitting on Dharna shows that Shri Harivansh Ji has been blessed with a humble mind and a big heart. It shows his greatness. I join the people of India in congratulating Harivansh Ji,” PM Modi tweeted.
— ANI (@ANI) September 22, 2020
On Tuesday morning, before the Parliament proceedings began, Harivansh arrived at the protest site carrying a flask, disposable cutlery, and snacks. His attempt at striking truce appeared to have been rebuffed by the protesting MPs who did not accept the refreshments. However, the Deputy Chairman spent some time with the MPs sitting on the lawns of the parliament complex. He also wrote to Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu expressing deep anguish at the “humiliating” conduct towards him in the House, and announced he would be fasting for the next 24 hours. “My fast may perhaps inspire ‘self-purification’ in those who behaved insultingly towards me,” he wrote.
Whatever happened in front of me on September 20 has caused unimaginable loss to the dignity of House and Chair, he added.
The sit-in protest by eight suspended MPs at Parliament premises on Monday continued past midnight and received the support of a large number of opposition leaders.
To show solidarity with their protesting colleagues, senior opposition leaders came in hordes including NC leader Faroukh Abdullah, JD(S)’ Deve Gowda, Samajwadi Party’s Jaya Bachchan, Congress’ Ahmed Patel and NCP’s Praful Patel.
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh sat with the protesting parliamentarians for almost four hours, one of the suspended MPs told PTI as they sang patriotic songs, surrounded by placards hanging on strings with slogans in support of farmers.
“This is the first time ever that a peaceful overnight protest in front of Gandhi statue in Parliament has happened,” protesting TMC MP Dola Sen said.
“This is also the first time that members were openly robbed of their right as MPs to ask for a division (not just a voice vote),” she said.
The protesting MPs are carrying not just their beddings with pillows and blankets but mosquito repellents as well to shield themselves from the vectors.
“We would like the government to know that this is an indefinite protest,” O’Brien said.
AAP’s Sanjay Singh said, “We will continue protesting against the farmer bills until the Modi government provides a rationale behind passing these bills without having the required votes”.
(With inputs from PTI)
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