Escalating tensions in the House, another three members of Rajya Sabha — AAP’s Sushil Kumar Gupta and Sandeep Kumar Pathak and Assam independent member Ajit Kumar Bhuyan — were suspended Thursday for the rest of the week for alleged misconduct, taking the total number of Opposition MPs suspended from the Upper House this session to 23.
Earlier this week, four Congress MPs were suspended from Lok Sabha for the remainder of the current session.
The fresh action came even as suspended MPs continued sitting on dharna within Parliament House premises, accusing the government of “throttling the voice” of the Opposition. The suspension of 23 MPs over three days is the highest in the recent history of Parliament.
The motion seeking the suspension of the three MPs, moved by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V Muraleedharan, mentioned the display of placards as an offence — for the first time.
“That this House having taken a serious note of the misconduct of Sushil Kumar Gupta, Sandeep Kumar Pathak and Ajit Kumar Bhuyan who have entered the Well of the House, shouted slogans and displayed placards this morning, thereby disrupting the proceedings of the House, in utter disregard to the House and the authority of the Chair and having been named by the Chair, resolves that the…Members, be suspended from the service of the Council for the remainder of the current week under Rule 256,” stated the motion which was passed by a voice vote.
The Opposition hit back. “This government uses bulldozers on the ground and bulldozes us inside Parliament. That is the reality,” TMC’s suspended MP Sushmita Dev said at the Idea Exchange programme of The Indian Express where she was present along with fellow MPs, DMK’s Kanimozhi NVN Somu and CPM’s A A Rahim. All three were suspended Tuesday.
“I think their target is 75 because it is Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. So we are waiting for Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav,” Rahim said. He said the suspension explains the attitude of the government.
“The monsoon session opened with the addition of new unparliamentary words like corruption, dictatorial, criminal, betrayal and cheating…It is very clear that they are afraid. They keep away from discussion. They are afraid of words and criticism. We are representatives of the people. We will raise people’s issues in Parliament. That is part of the process of democratic system. What is the attitude of this government towards the democratic system? They are afraid of democracy. They are afraid of the voice of the people, the voice of the members,” he said.
Kanimozhi said the Opposition was only seeking a debate. She said the government had been saying that a discussion can be held once Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman returns to the House. She said the expectation is that there is uniformity of thought in the government in which case any senior minister can reply to the debate.
“Why doesn’t the Prime Minister come and address? Why does he want to sit in Gujarat? When he can address the people of India by Mann ki Baat…why can’t he come to Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha and give us an answer…where we all elected members are sitting there and asking them. Why should only the Finance Minister answer? Doesn’t the PM hold any responsibility to the people on the GST rise and price rise,” she asked.
She and Rahim said hardly one or two MPs were displaying placards.
Sushmita Dev said, “When the farm laws were being passed, we saw the Defence Minister speak on that subject. When Rafale was being debated, we saw (Arun) Jaitleyji, who was not the Defence Minister but the Finance Minister, addressed the debate. So, for this very same government to say we are not going to debate price rise because Nirmalaji is not well is something we don’t buy.”
On the display of placards, Dev said people should understand “what is it that drives us to do that.”
“The optics go against us when we are holding a placard… whether it is one person or whether it is 10 people, it is a different issue. When papers are being torn, the optics are bad, the narrative goes against us… But what is far more blasphemous for a Parliamentary democracy is… when you have two Bills, the Antarctic Bill and Weapons of Mass Destruction Bill … I am not undermining the importance of these Bills… but when a Bill has two just clauses and you are debating it for three-three days… are we wasting the taxpayer’s money or is the treasury bench abusing the taxpayer’s money,” she said.
“The question is how do you explain to the people the Parliamentary procedure. So our optics are bad, but actually what the treasury benches are doing with the Parliamentary procedure… is far more worse than showing a placard… they are decimating and destroying time of the people, time that is paid for by the people. That is far more blasphemous,” Dev said.