Government tries to break deadlock but day ends with suspension of AAP leader Sanjay Singh 

Opposition calls Sanjay Singh’s suspension disproportionate. He had walked up to the Chair to attract attention of Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar to the protesting Opposition MPs demanding a debate on Manipur

Updated - July 24, 2023 09:45 pm IST

Published - July 24, 2023 03:48 pm IST - New Delhi

Union Home Minister Amit Shah said he was unable to understand why the Opposition was not allowing a discussion to take place as the government was ready for it.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah said he was unable to understand why the Opposition was not allowing a discussion to take place as the government was ready for it. | Photo Credit: PTI

In a bid to break the deadlock over the Opposition’s demand that Prime Minister Narendra Modi deliver a statement on developments in Manipur over the last two months, the Defence Minister spoke to Congress president and Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge on Sunday night. The call had little impact as the Opposition continued with their protest in Rajya Sabha. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) member Sanjay Singh was suspended for the entire session.

The day in Parliament began with a protest, as all parties of the INDIA (Indian National Developmental, Inclusive Alliance) coalition came together at the Gandhi statue. For a few minutes there were competing protests between the BJP and INDIA parties. The BJP Parliamentarians were protesting incidents of alleged atrocities against women in the Opposition-ruled States.

Speaking at the protest, Mr. Kharge, said, “The Prime Minister spoke at the door of the Parliament on the Manipur issue. We request the Rajya Sabha Chairman and Lok Sabha Speaker to urge PM Modi to come to the House to make a statement on Manipur. Prime Minister doesn’t enter the two Houses. He comes to the Parliament and watches the proceedings while sitting in his office.”

He informed mediapersons that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had made a round of calls to him and to all the parliamentary party leaders of the leading Opposition parties. “We reiterated our point that the Prime Minister must come and give a statement inside the House. He must listen to the debate and then we can take a collective decision on the issue,” he said. 

Also Read | Parliament Monsoon Session updates | July 24, 2023

When the House sat for the day, Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar, setting the tone, informed that he has received 11 notices under Rule 167 for short-duration discussion. Barring one, moved by Communist Party of India (Marxist) MP P. Sivadasan, all the others were moved by BJP MPs who wanted to flag atrocities against women in Opposition-ruled States. Another 27 notices, majority of which were to discuss the situation in Manipur, were moved by Opposition MPs under Rule 267. This rule dictates suspension of the day’s business to debate the admitted topic. Trinamool Congress Floor Leader Derek O’ Brien objected to Chairman Mr. Dhankhar not specifying the party affiliations of those who moved notices under Rule 267 leading to a war of words. The House was adjourned till 12:00 noon. 

Explained | What to expect from the Monsoon Session of Parliament?

When the House reconvened, Chairman Dhankhar ignoring pleas of the Leader of Opposition Kharge and others to debate Manipur tried to hold the Question Hour. Agitated Opposition members stood up from their chairs and inched towards the well raising slogans such as “Narendra Modi jawab do” (Prime Minister must reply). At 12:10 p.m., AAP Floor Leader Mr. Sanjay Singh walked up to the Chair, seeking to draw his attention towards the protesting Opposition MPs. 

At this, Leader of House Piyush Goyal moved a motion seeking his suspension, which was passed by a voice vote, amidst din. The House was adjourned for lunch. Mr. Sanjay Singh continued to sit in his chair after the House adjourned. 

Floor Leaders of all INDIA parties went to meet Mr. Dhankhar calling Mr. Sanjay Singh’s suspension “disproportionate”. He has been suspended for all the remaining 14 days of the Monsoon Session. To address the problem, Mr. Dhankhar called a meeting of the Floor Leaders at 1:00 p.m. But the meeting failed to break the deadlock. 

At the meeting, the Chairman asked three MPs - AAP’s Raghav Chadha (who came in place of Mr. Sanjay Singh), Trinamool’s Shantanu Sen (who came in place of Mr. O’ Brien) and CPI’s Binoy Viswam - to leave the meeting saying it has been exclusively called for Floor Leaders. Mr. Chadha argued that he is representing his suspended MP, but that as per sources, didn’t make a difference. The Opposition protesting against this walked out of the meeting. CPI only has two members including Mr. Viswam, and thus does not get the position of Floor Leader. The Opposition walked out in a huff following the three leaders. 

During the discussions with Mr. Dhankhar at his office earlier, the Opposition leaders questioned the way the suspension motion was moved and passed. They also pointed out that the government had very little provocation to suspend Mr. Sanjay Singh for the entire session and called it “disproportionate”. 

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Congress general secretary (communication) and Rajya Sabha chief whip Jairam Ramesh said, “Between 2010-13 there were three occasions when the BJP didn’t allow the House to function until PM made a statement on issues agitating them. Prime Minister Modi’s comments on Manipur, made outside the floor of two Houses, are a breach of all Parliamentary propriety which dictates that all important announcements, while the Parliament is in session, have to be made on the floor of the House.” 

When the House reassembled after lunch at 2 p.m., Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh said the Chairman has named Mr. Sanjay Singh for causing disruptions and a motion has also been passed for suspending Mr. Sanjay Singh for the remaining part of the Monsoon Session. Mr. Sanjay Singh was present in the House and Mr. Harivansh asked him to leave the House. “Rules of procedure and conduct of business in the Council of States demand that a suspended member should immediately vacate the premises of the House,” Mr. Harivansh said. He then adjourned the House till 3 p.m. as Opposition members protested the decision to suspend Mr. Sanjay Singh. They raised point of order against the decision and Mr. Harivansh said no point of order can be considered against the Chairman’s decision.

Later, at 3 p.m., Mr. Harivansh adjourned the House for the day. He asked Mr. Sanjay Singh again to leave the House amid protests by Opposition members.

At the end of the day, speaking to reporters, Mr. Sanjay Singh said, “If this House is not for speaking on Manipur violence-like incidents and if they cannot give reply... I would only say that the Prime Minister is a shameless, coward, and cruel ruler with whom we are ready to fight.” 

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