Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal said on Tuesday that if the 12 suspended members were to apologise they could return to the House. Earlier in the day, the Opposition staged a walkout and stayed away from the proceedings. The suspended MPs will hold a sit-in at the Gandhi statue on the Parliament premises till the end of the winter session.
The government, striking a conciliatory note, did not take up the listed legislative business of the Dam Safety Bill in the absence of the Opposition.
Soon after the House was convened for the day, Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge pointed out that on technical grounds the suspension was illegal.
The members were suspended for their alleged misconduct on August 11 in the monsoon session, under Rule 256 of the House.
Mr. Kharge stated that the two essential parameters essential under the rules were ignored. First, the Chairman had to name a member, if he was of the view that the member had disregarded the authority of the Chair or abused the rules of the Council by persistently and wilfully obstructing the business of the House. “Only after the member is named, can a motion be made to suspend them. More importantly, this procedure is relevant only on the date of occurrence of the alleged disregard or disorderly conduct of a member,” he observed.
‘Blatant violation of rules’
“Bringing forward a motion to suspend the members months after the day of occurrence of alleged disorderly conduct is not in order. This unprecedented and undemocratic act is a blatant violation of the rules,” he contended. He requested Chairman Venkaiah Naidu to revoke the suspension, which was outrightly rejected.
Mr. Naidu said the Rajya Sabha was a continuing institution and that taking action against some members on the first day of the current winter session for their acts of misconduct on the last day of the last monsoon session was in order. “The members who have committed this sacrilege against the House, they have not expressed any remorse. On the other hand, they are justifying it. So, I don't think the appeal of LoP [Leader of the Opposition] Shri Kharge for revocation of suspension is worth considering,” he stated.
At Mr. Naidu’s comments, the Congress, RJD, AAP, TRS and the Left parties staged a walkout. The TMC stayed back for another five minutes. “We all want Parliament to run, but in the entire monsoon session, the Opposition was compelled to do what they did because certain discussions were not allowed. You spoke about the sanctity of Parliament, the 12 members should not have been suspended, it is the 80 members of the treasury benches who should have been suspended,” TMC floor leader Derek O’ Brien said before staging the walkout.
‘LoP’s charge unfortunate’
In the absence of the Opposition, the House ran smoothly till the lunch hour. When it reconvened, Mr. Goyal, defending the Chair, presented the government’s side of the story. He said the LoP’s charge against the Chair was unfortunate. Mr Kharge, he said, did not express any regret for the action of the 12 MPs. He listed out the actions of the MPs that led to the decision, including allegedly “attacking” the marshals, blocking his and another Minister’s path while they were walking to the House, placing placards in front of those who were speaking, hooting and whistling.
“Anyone can make a mistake…They should not only apologise to the House and the Chair, but to the country,” he asserted.
After Mr. Goyal’s statement, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said the discussion on the Dam Safety Bill that was slated for Tuesday afternoon could be taken up on Wednesday. He remarked that as far as he knew, the Opposition had decided to boycott the proceedings on Tuesday alone.
“We are open to constructive criticism. Our party is the most democratic party in the country. Our leader is also very democratic. The Opposition has boycotted for a day. So we can take up the Dam Safety Bill tomorrow,” Mr. Joshi said, to which the House agreed and proceedings were adjourned till 11 a.m. on Wednesday.