Opposition suspends protest for a day to mourn Gen. Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 others

Opposition parties' MPs and suspended Rajya Sabha MPs observe a minute of silence for IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu, in which CDS Gen. Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat, his staff and other officials were killed, at Parliament in New Delhi, on December 9, 2021.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The Opposition parties suspended their sit-in for a day in Parliament to pay tribute to General Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 others who died in a chopper crash in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, on Wednesday.

Thursday was the ninth day of the protest against the suspension of 12 of its Rajya Sabha members for alleged misconduct in the monsoon session.

Also read | Tri-service inquiry ordered into IAF chopper crash, says Rajnath Singh

The decision to suspend the protest for a day was taken in the morning meeting of floor leaders of the parties chaired by Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge.

In the Rajya Sabha, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh read out a statement detailing the chopper crash. Deputy Chairman Harivansh also read an obituary reference. But despite demands, he did not allow any of the Opposition leaders to speak and the Trinamool Congress walked out in protest. “We have walked out in protest of the fact that the Chair did not allow any Opposition party to condole the tragic death of General Rawat and 12 others on record. Mourning is also monopolised by this regime,” TMC leader Sushmita Dev said.

The Congress and the other Opposition parties continued to be in the House.

Also read | Death of CDS Rawat leaves a vacuum at top level

Speaking to reporters later in the day, Mr. Kharge described the events in the House as unfortunate. “We may have our political differences with the government but this was not a political issue. We wanted to express our condolences and pay tribute to the country’s first Chief of Defence Staff but the Opposition was not given the opportunity to do so. This is how the democracy is being run,” he said. He was accompanied by RJD leader Manoj K Jha and DMK’s TKS Elangovan.

Sonia’s gesture

As a mark of respect, Congress president Sonia Gandhi directed her party colleagues not to celebrate her birthday. Several leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, wished Ms. Gandhi on her 75th birthday.

In a statement, Congress veteran Karan Singh condoled the demise of General Rawat and urged the government to fill the void created by his death.

“He was involved in a substantive restructuring of our entire defence architecture, and at a time when we are facing multiple security challenges, his abrupt disappearance leaves a void which needs to be rapidly filled,” Dr. Singh said.

He described General Rawat as “an outstanding officer with a strong intellectual grasp of the complexities facing our defence structure”.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 2:30:33 PM |

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