Parliament ruckus National

Outsiders brought in as marshals to manhandle MPs: Opposition

Marshals stand in the Rajya Sabha as Oppostion MPs protest inside the House on 11, 2021. Photo: Twitter/@rautsanjay61 via PTI  

A day after dramatic scenes were witnessed in the Rajya Sabha during the passage of the General Insurance (Amendment) Bill on the last day of the monsoon session, top Opposition leaders on Thursday charged that “outsiders” were brought in, in the guise of marshals, to “manhandle” MPs, including women members.

The Rajya Sabha Secretariat, however, denied the allegation, and sources told The Hindu that Parliament security staff of the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha were deployed, with their number being scaled up from 14 to 42 as the intensity of the protests increased.

Also read | Rajya Sabha clears general insurance bill amid shocking scenes

A march and a memo

The day saw intense political activity as Opposition leaders first gathered at the office of the Leader of the Opposition (LoP) in the Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, then marched from the Mahatma Gandhi statue inside the Parliament complex to Vijay Chowk, next to the Parliament building, where the leaders addressed presspersons.

After the protests, a 14-member delegation of senior Opposition MPs called upon Mr. Naidu to hand over a memorandum about the manner in which the General Insurance (Amendment) Bill was passed. The delegation also flagged the issue of Rajya Sabha TV blacking out Opposition protests.

“This is a matter which I will investigate,” Mr. Naidu is reported to have told the delegation, asserting that he never instructed the channel to black out Opposition protests.

Also read | ‘Nothing short of murder of democracy’: Rahul Gandhi on manhandling Rajya Sabha members

The joint protest march earlier was a show of strength by the Opposition parties against the curtailment of the monsoon session.

At the subsequent presser, the leaders accused the Narendra Modi government of not allowing the Opposition to raise issues such as snooping by Pegasus spyware, the farmers’ agitation, price rise and the economic situation among others.

“For the first time in Rajya Sabha, MPs were beaten up, after bringing people from outside,” former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi told reporters. “It is the Chairman’s and Speaker's responsibility to run the House,” he added.

 

“Who is stopping the Opposition in the House? I will tell you: India’s Prime Minister is doing the work of selling this country. He is selling the soul of India to two-three industrialists and that is why the Opposition is not allowed to speak inside Parliament,” the Congress leader alleged.

The voices of the 60% of the country [represented by the Opposition parties] has been “crushed and humiliated”, Mr. Gandhi said.

Alleging that the Opposition was not allowed to speak inside Parliament, Mr Gandhi said, “this is nothing short of murder of democracy”.

In a joint statement, signed by leaders of the Congress, NCP, Shiv Sena, SP, DMK, CPI-M, CPI, RJD, IUML, RSP, and Kerala Congress (M), Opposition parties accused the government of having ‘scant’ regard for democracy, ‘derailing’ the Parliament session and reiterated the allegations of ‘outsiders’ assaulting MPs.

Parliament proceedings | Opposition claims war-like situation in Rajya Sabha

“What happened in Rajya Sabha yesterday was shocking, unprecedented, sad and an insult to the very dignity of the House and humiliation of the members of the august House,” read the statement.

“Without any provocation from the Opposition, outsiders who were not part of Parliament security, were brought in to manhandle the Opposition leaders and members, including women Parliamentarians who were only protesting against the Government’s conduct, high handedness and muzzling of the voice,” it added.

Several Opposition leaders like Mr.Raut and Mr Jha alleged that the General Insurance Bill was passed in the Upper House under ‘martial law’.

“The way people were brought in and deployed as marshals in Rajya Sabha. I felt like martial law was imposed and I felt like I was standing at Pakistan border as I was stopped from going inside,” Mr. Raut told reporters after the march.

While DMK’s Tiruchi Siva said one has never witnessed such behaviour in Parliament in more than two decades, NCP’s Praful Patel said it is the government’s duty to ensure ‘smooth functioning’ of Parliament.

‘Unacceptable force’

In the memorandum to Mr. Naidu, Opposition leaders stated,“A very large number of security personnel, who were not part of the regular part of the watch and ward staff of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat, were deployed. They used unacceptable force and physically manhandled Members of Parliament, including women members”.

“Opposition MPs were prevented from registering their protest against the General Insurance Amendment Bill on which there was a wide consensus that it should be referred to a Select Committee. The Opposition strongly condemns the authoritarian attitude and undemocratic actions of the Government,” it added.

The delegation included Mr. Kharge, Anand Sharma and Jairam Ramesh (Congress), Sharad Pawar (NCP), Ramgopal Yadav (SP), Tiruchi Siva (DMK), Sanjay Raut (Shiv Sena), Elamaram Kareem (CPI-M), Binoy Viswam (CPI), Manoj.K.Jha (RJD), Abdul Wahab (IUML) and Shreyams Kumar (LJD).

Sources said Mr. Pawar forcefully argued that in his five decade long Parliamentary career he had never seen scenes that unfolded on Wednesday evening in Rajya Sabha and CPI (M) MP Elamaram Kareem claimed the number of marshals outnumbered MPs.

Trinamool Congress and Aam Admi Party were notable absentees as they were neither a part of the Opposition’s joint march nor the memorandum to Mr. Naidu.


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Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 9:51:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/outsiders-brought-in-as-marshals-to-manhandle-mps-opposition/article35886587.ece

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