Opposition protests mass suspension of MPs, Kharge asks govt to 'behave democratically'

Carrying a huge ‘Save Democracy’ banner and placards with messages like ‘Opposition MPs Suspended’ ‘Parliament Caged’ and ‘‘Democracy Expelled’ written on them, the lawmakers took out the march

Updated - December 21, 2023 04:08 pm IST

Published - December 21, 2023 03:05 pm IST - New Delhi

Members of Parliament address the media after their march from Parliament to Vijay Chowk, in New Delhi on December 21, 2023.

Members of Parliament address the media after their march from Parliament to Vijay Chowk, in New Delhi on December 21, 2023. | Photo Credit: Shashi Shekhar Kashyap

INDIA bloc MPs on December 21 marched from Parliament to Vijay Chowk in New Delhi to protest the suspension of Opposition lawmakers, with Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge asserting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had violated parliamentary privilege by not speaking on the security breach issue inside the House.

Carrying a huge ‘Save Democracy’ banner and placards with messages like ‘Opposition MPs Suspended’ ‘Parliament Caged’ and ‘‘Democracy Expelled’ written on them, the lawmakers took out the march.

Meanwhile, three more MPs were suspended from the Lok Sabha for the remainder of the Winter session for unruly behaviour, taking the total number of members against whom such action has been taken to 146.

Also read: List of MPs suspended so far in Parliament’s Winter Session

Speaking with reporters at Vijay Chowk, Mr. Kharge said it is the right of the Opposition to speak in a democracy and as representatives of people it is the legislators’ responsibility to convey the sentiments of the people in Parliament.

The Opposition wanted to speak on the issue but Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah did not turn up either in the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha, even as the PM continued to make speeches elsewhere, Mr. Kharge said.

“We wanted to raise Parliament security breach issue as to why it happened and who is responsible,” Mr. Kharge said. “Parliament is a big Panchayat. If one will not speak in Parliament where would one speak. It is unfortunate that Home Minister Shah and Prime Minister Modi did not come to the House to apprise about the security breach. They spoke about issues which should be spoken in the House, outside it.

Also Read | Parliament Winter Session Day 14 LIVE

“He [Modi] talks in Varanasi, Ahmedabad, on TV but not in Parliament. They have disrespected the House. He should come and speak in the House first, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Instead of that he was speaking outside. This is condemnable and it was a violation of privilege [of the House],” Mr. Kharge alleged.

Opposition MPs are repeatedly requesting Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to allow the lawmakers to speak on the security breach issue, Mr. Kharge said, alleging that the ruling party members were disturbing proceedings.

This shows that the BJP does not have faith in democracy and does not want discussion and debate, the Congress chief alleged.

Mr. Kharge urged the government to “behave democratically”.

INDIA bloc leaders will protest at Jantar Mantar on December 22 against suspension of MPs and nationwide protests will also be held in all district headquarters against the government’s “immoral and illegal” behaviour of this government, the Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha said.

Congress’ leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Congress general secretary K.C. Venugopal, National Conference’s Hasnain Masoodi, JMM’s Mahua Maji, Samajwadi Party’s S.T. Hasan, flanked Mr. Kharge as he made his remarks at Vijay Chowk.

Also read: Parliament security breach accused considered self-immolation, other options: officials

In an apparent reference to the mimicry issue and Mr. Dhankhar’s remarks on it, Mr. Kharge said, “I am sorry to say that the Rajya Sabha Chairman has in a way brought casteism to Parliament by raising an issue.”

A political row broke out on Tuesday after Trinamool Congress leader Kalyan Banerjee derisively mimicked Mr. Dhankhar during the Opposition’s protest on the stairs of Parliament against the MPs’ suspension, drawing strong condemnation from the ruling BJP.

Mr. Dhankhar had given vent to his anguish in the Rajya Sabha, saying he was personally hurt as his farmer and Jat backgrounds were targeted.

In a post on X after the protest march, Mr. Kharge said, “We, the people of India need to Save Democracy. Passing important legislations by suspending Opposition MPs is not Democracy. It is the worst kind of authoritarianism.” “Our future generations will not forgive us, if we do not raise our voices against this dictatorship, NOW!” he said.

Three more MPs were suspended on Dec. 21 for displaying placards, taking the total number of members of the Lower House against whom such action has been taken to 100.

With these fresh suspensions, the total number of members suspended from the Lok Sabha as well as the Rajya Sabha since December 14 has gone up to 146.

After two men jumped in the Lok Sabha chamber on December 13 and released smoke from canisters, the Opposition has been disrupting House proceedings demanding a statement from Mr. Shah on the security breach.

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