‘Centre wants to throttle Opposition’s voice’: Congress on MP suspension

Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Choudhary at Parliament House in New Delhi, on July 23.

Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Choudhary at Parliament House in New Delhi, on July 23. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Congress described the suspension of its four MPs for the rest of the Monsoon session for disrupting proceedings in Lok Sabha  as a “blot on democracy” on July 25, alleging the government was trying to “intimidate” the party but it would not be cowed down.

Four Congress members of the Lok Sabha — Manickam Tagore, T.N. Prathapan, Jothimani and Ramya Haridas — were suspended from Lok Sabha for the rest of the session for displaying placards and disrupting proceedings despite a warning by Speaker Om Birla.

Congress’ leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the government wants to “throttle” the voice of the Opposition by resorting to “tactics of intimidation”.

“Our demands are very simple. Since day one and before the commencement of the House at the all-party meeting in the presence of Rajnath Singh, the entire Opposition had been in one voice to call for discussion on price rise,” he said.

The price rise issue needs to be discussed forthwith because everybody has been a victim of this, Mr. Chowdhury said.

“But the government on one pretext or another is shying away from having a discussion on price rise. So finding no alternative in Parliament, where it is our duty to raise the issues of the common people, we were shouting that this issue should be discussed,” he said.

“This government has resorted to a brutal measure by suspending our MPs only to throttle the voice of the Opposition. It is an anathema to the democratic ethos of our country. Day in and day out, the rights of the people, the institution of democracy is being trampled upon,” he said.

The suspended MPs staged a protest at the Gandhi Statue inside the Parliament premises. Speaking to reporters along with the four suspended MPs, Congress’ Deputy Leader in Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi said, “The government is trying to intimidate us by suspending our MPs. What was their fault? They were trying to raise the issues which matter to people.” The Congress party will not be cowed down like this, he asserted.

“The MPs were holding placards raising the issues of rise in prices of gas cylinders, and imposition of GST on items such as flour and buttermilk. We moved an adjournment motion demanding a discussion on these issues, but no discussion was held,” he said.

Mr. Tagore alleged the government “only hears the voice of the fourth-richest man in the world and not the common man”.

He was apparently referring to industrialist Gautam Adani, who, according to Forbes’ Real-Time Billionaires list, recently surpassed Bill Gates to became the world’s fourth richest man with an estimated wealth of $116 billion.

The Congress has been demanding a discussion on price rise, giving notices for adjournment motion but the government has shown “complete arrogance”, the Congress’ whip in Lok Sabha said.

“Today, when a tribal woman has taken oath as president, a Dalit woman (Ramya Haridas) has been suspended from Lok Sabha,” he said.

He said the BJP only wants Parliament to cheer its leaders and its victory.

“We were trying to show placards in the House and place them in the camera angles. They say placards are not allowed in Parliament... what is allowed is only cheering for Modi ji,” he said.

Asked about the suspension at a press conference at the AICC headquarters here, party spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil said there is a tradition in Parliament that suspension is done only in exceptional and rarest of the rare circumstances when the member is unruly and there is no other option.

“When Sukh Ram ji was our minister, the BJP had not allowed Parliament to function for 17 days alleging corruption against him. Sukh Ram ji had resigned and we had also allowed debate. There was no suspension,” Mr. Gohil said.

“It is a tradition of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha that the member comes to the well of the House, it gets adjourned, there is a dialogue, a middle path is found and work goes on. Suspension is not the way and in the past, suspension has not happened in this manner,” he said.

Mr. Gohil pointed out that the Speaker or the Chairman has the right to name members, ask them to go out or adjourn the House, hold dialogue and find a way.

“Never has the Parliament been run by suspending Opposition members, by just having their way. This kind of way of running the House, what Hitler had done, are we going in that direction where Parliament will be run without the Opposition,” he added.

Inflation is an important issue and the Opposition wanted a discussion on it, he said, adding if “you don’t agree to it, we are left with no option but to shout, go to the well. What else would we do?” He said when the BJP was in Opposition it had done the same thing repeatedly, and argued that stalling the House is a tactic of the Opposition which is in public interest and running of the House is the job of the party in power.

“Suspension instead of dialogue is a blot on democracy,” he said.

The first week of Monsoon session was washed out with Opposition protesting over a host of issues.

After the proceedings were stalled on July 25 too by protesting Opposition members, the Chair named Congress MPs Manickam Tagore, T.N. Prathapan, Jothimani and Ramya Haridas. When a member is named, he or she has to immediately withdraw from the chamber of the House.

Parliamentary Affair Minister Pralhad Joshi then moved a resolution to suspend the four MPs for the rest of the session.

Mr. Joshi said that these MPs had shown “utter disregard” for the authority of the Chair and a “serious note of their misconduct” had been taken by the House.

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Printable version | Aug 22, 2022 6:43:03 pm |