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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Rajya Sabha Pegasus ruckus: TMC lines up Opposition MPs in defence of suspended Shantanu Sen

In a complaint to the House Chairman, TMC chief whip Sukhendu Sekhar Roy is learnt to have listed the names of the Opposition MPs, from TMC's arch-rival CPI(M) to the Shiv Sena and senior Congress leaders such as P Chidambaram, who are “ready to depose” as “eye-witnesses” against Puri.

Written by Ravish Tiwari | New Delhi |
Updated: August 2, 2021 7:10:57 am
Opposition leaders have been protesting both outside and inside the House demanding a discussion on the Pegasus issue. (Photo: PTI)

At least a dozen non-TMC Opposition MPs in the Rajya Sabha are said to have offered to depose against Union Minister Hardeep Puri in defence of TMC MP Shantanu Sen who was suspended from the House for tearing up Union Minister Ashwani Vaishnaw’s statement on the Pegasus issue.

On that day, July 22, there was a heated exchange between Sen and Puri after which the TMC MP alleged that he was summoned by the Union Minister in a “bad manner”.

Amid the commotion, soon after Sen tore Vaishnaw’s statement, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh, who was presiding over the House, said: “Yeh asansadiya parampara kripya hum log na karein…yeh kaunsi loktantrik prakriya hai (Let us not indulge in such unparliamentary traditions, please… what democratic process is this)?”

The next day, after Sen was suspended, Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu described the ruckus as a “clear assault on our Parliamentary democracy”.

In a complaint to the House Chairman, TMC chief whip Sukhendu Sekhar Roy is learnt to have listed the names of the Opposition MPs, from TMC’s arch-rival CPI(M) to the Shiv Sena and senior Congress leaders such as P Chidambaram, who are “ready to depose” as “eye-witnesses” against Puri.

Apart from TMC MPs, they include CPI(M)’s Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi, Akali Dal’s Balwinder Singh Bhunder, SP’s Ram Gopal Yadav, RJD’s Manoj Jha, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva and several Congress MPs, including Digvijaya Singh and Shaktisinh Gohil apart from Chidambaram, sources aware of the complaint told The Indian Express.

In the complaint, the TMC chief whip has alleged “abuses” and “heckling” by the Union Minister, and sought a “thorough probe into the rowdyism”.

“These names were communicated to the Rajya Sabha Chairman after the MPs were asked whether they witnessed the events and were ready to vouch for the sequence,” sources said.

On July 23, Naidu had said: “…unfortunately, the proceedings of the House hit a new low with the papers being snatched from the Minister and torn into pieces and thrown into the air. Such actions are a clear assault on our parliamentary democracy. They do not cover the world’s largest democracy with glory.”

According to sources, the TMC believes that the inclusion of senior MPs from other parties will add weight to its allegations. Besides, they said, the names of floor leaders of the SP and DMK on the list indicates that the TMC has access to and wields sway across the Opposition spectrum.

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