INDIA partners speak in one voice against the BJP, call fresh suspensions as an ‘attack on democracy’

This is the BJP’s plan to decide on pending legislation without any debate or dissent, Opposition party leaders claim after as many as 33 members were suspended from both Houses of Parliament

December 18, 2023 10:13 pm | Updated December 19, 2023 01:04 am IST - New Delhi

INDIA parties floor leader meeting at the office of Congress president and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, at Parliament House in New Delhi on Monday.

INDIA parties floor leader meeting at the office of Congress president and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, at Parliament House in New Delhi on Monday. | Photo Credit: ANI

The mass suspension of Opposition members from both Houses of Parliament prompted the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) partners to speak in one voice against the BJP. Congress president and Leader of the Opposition (LoP) in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge accused the Narendra Modi government of attacking democracy and Parliament.

Floor leaders of the INDIA bloc parties, many of whom are suspended, will be meeting at Mr. Kharge’s Parliament chamber on Tuesday morning to decide the next course of action.

The issue of mass suspension could also figure in the meeting of the leaders of the INDIA bloc later in the afternoon, even though the meeting is mainly to carry forward their plans to put up a united front against the Modi government.

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Accusing the Modi government of throwing all democratic norms into the dustbin, Mr. Kharge, in a post on X, said, “With an Opposition-Less Parliament, the Modi Government can now bulldoze important pending legislations, crush any dissent, without any debate”.

The LoP said the Opposition had only been demanding a statement from the Union Home Minister and a discussion on “the inexcusable breach in the Parliament security”.

“Prime Minister can give an interview to a newspaper and the Home Minister to TV channels but they have zero accountability left to the Parliament - which represents the People of India,” he added.

Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who was also suspended, said, “...today’s government has reached the extreme level of dictatorship. They are wielding the stick of ‘bahubalis’ (musclemen) and have suspended everybody”.

Rajya Sabha member and Congress general secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal said if the Opposition is silenced in Parliament, then “we will make every street echo in protest”.

Suspended MPs - Lok sabha by Net Desk

Partners stand united

Arguing that the suspension will unite the INDIA bloc, Trinamool Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Sudip Bandyopadhyay said, “They [the BJP] are trying to gag the voice of the Opposition. We will discuss the matter, there is INDIA alliance meeting tomorrow”.

Trinamool chief whip Kalyan Banerjee and Sougata Roy were among the 33 Lok Sabha members who were suspended. “They want the silence of the graveyard in Parliament,” Mr. Roy said.

DMK leader T.R. Baalu termed the action “unprecedented”, while Rajya Sabha Sabha member from Rashtriya Jana Dal (RJD) called the suspension a “badge of honour that he wears during the dark days of democracy”.

“Would it be unfair to say that it is a suspension of democracy because BJP refuses to hold itself accountable for the Parliament security breach? It is a shame,” Rajya Sabha member Priyanka Chaturvedi of the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray).

Calling it a “murder of democracy” in a post on X, NCP leader Supriya Sule, who isn’t among the suspended members, said, “Suspension of Opposition MPs exposes the arbitrariness of the decision and the fear in the ruling government of being held responsible for something as serious as the security breach in the Parliament.”

Suspended MPs - Rajya sabha by Net Desk

Janata Dal (United)’s Lok Sabha Kaushalendra Kumar accused the government of resorting to this move in order to ensure a smooth passage of Bills like the revised criminal codes that seek to replace the Criminal Procedure Code, Indian Penal Code and the Indian Evidence Act. “We are elected by the people, not by the government or the Chair,” he said.

“Tanashahi ka Doosra Naam ModiShahi hai — democracy has been suspended!” Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said in a post on X. The party’s deputy leader in Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi said, “This is a process for trampling upon the fundamental rights of the people by running a bulldozer over opposition power.”

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