Parliament proceedings | Lok Sabha suspends two more Opposition members as protest continues

In total, 97 Lok Sabha MPs have been suspended during this session; Rajya Sabha considers and returns two taxation Bills in the absence of Opposition MPs

December 20, 2023 03:24 pm | Updated 11:44 pm IST - New Delhi

The Lok Sabha in session on December 20, 2023. Photo: Sansad TV via ANI

The Lok Sabha in session on December 20, 2023. Photo: Sansad TV via ANI

Two more Opposition members were suspended from the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, as protests continued in both Houses of Parliament over last week’s security breach and demands for a statement from Home Minister Amit Shah. Kerala Congress (Mani) member Thomas Chazhikadan and Communist Party of India (Marxist) member A.M. Ariff were suspended for the remainder of the Winter Session that ends on Friday, taking the total number of suspensions in the Lower House to an unprecedented 97.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla warned these two members and two others from the Janata Dal (United) – Vijay Kumar and Kavita Singh – to take their seats when they were protesting during the Question Hour. Mr. Birla then adjourned the House for about 30 minutes until noon; when it reconvened, the suspensions were announced.

Also read: Parliament Winter Session Day 13 LIVE updates

Repeated adjournments

The Rajya Sabha witnessed repeated adjournments in the morning over the Opposition’s demand for Mr. Shah’s statement on the breach. In the afternoon, the Upper House considered and returned two Bills without the participation of any Opposition members in the debate, as those still remaining in the House boycotted the proceedings.

Almost immediately after it opened business for the day at 11 a.m., the Rajya Sabha was adjourned till 11:30 a.m., as Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar found that the House was not in order. Subsequently, the Chairman urged the Leader of the Opposition and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge to ensure that Opposition members did not engage in “this kind of indecorous conduct”, and adjourned the proceedings again, till 11:45 a.m.

VP questions Kharge’s silence

After the House reconvened, Mr. Dhankhar expressed anguish again regarding an incident where he was mocked through mimicry by an Opposition member, and questioned Mr. Kharge’s silence on the issue. The Chairman said that he could put up with any insult directed at him personally, but would not tolerate any disrespect of the post of the country’s Vice-President, the farmer community, and his section of society. “It is my duty to protect the honour of this House and my post,” he said, after which he adjourned the House till noon.

The Question House was about to start when Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi stood up to make a statement. He accused Congress leader Rahul Gandhi of insulting Mr. Dhankhar by filming his mimic, and disrespecting his constitutional position. “To insult any community and section of society is not acceptable,” he said.

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

‘Insult to VP, Constitution’

Claiming that the Opposition had stooped to a new low, Mr. Joshi said: “They have been repeatedly insulting people holding constitutional posts... For over 20 years, they insulted the Prime Minister as he comes from a poor family and is an OBC [or other backward class]. They continued to insult him even after he became the Prime Minister. Later, they insulted the President, who is a tribal woman,” he said, adding that now the Opposition leaders had insulted the post of the Vice-President by targeting Mr. Dhankhar, who was the son of a farmer from the Jat community.

Mr. Joshi said that the country would not tolerate the insult to the Vice-President and the Constitution, adding that the President and the Lok Sabha Speaker had also condemned the incident. He sought permission from the Chairman to allow the ruling party members to stand throughout the Question Hour as a mark of honour to him and protest against the Opposition.

They took their seats after about 10 minutes, on the Chairman’s request. Addressing them, he said: “I am greatly touched by your gesture. I do not represent an individual. I am custodian of an institution... I am accountable to it. Any affront to the institution, the position that I hold, I have to be a protector of it.” The House was then adjourned for the fourth time, till 2 p.m., after the completion of the Question Hour.

Opposition boycott as Bills taken up

Later in the afternoon, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman piloted the Central Goods and Services Tax (Second Amendment) Bill and the Provisional Collection of Taxes Bill through the House. As soon as the Bills were taken up for consideration, Mr. Kharge announced that the Opposition would boycott the proceedings. The Rajya Sabha then discussed and returned both the Bills in the absence of Opposition members.

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