Suspensions continue as 49 more MPs face action

Only 44 of the 139 INDIA bloc MPs are left in the Lower House; Ministers deplore placards with images of the PM; in the Rajya Sabha, Chairman slams Opposition for mocking him; three Bills passed, three criminal law Bills introduced

Updated - December 20, 2023 12:14 am IST

Published - December 19, 2023 01:27 pm IST

Suspended Opposition MPs protest outside Parliament on December 19, 2023.

Suspended Opposition MPs protest outside Parliament on December 19, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

In an unprecedented move, 49 more Lok Sabha MPs were suspended for unruly behaviour on Tuesday, bringing the total number of Opposition lawmakers from both Houses who have been shown the door during this session to 141. Despite the suspensions and repeated adjournments, three Bills were passed into law, and three key criminal law reform legislations were taken up for consideration in the Lok Sabha.

After Tuesday’s suspension, only 44 MPs belonging to the INDIA bloc parties, which are opposing the BJP on a common platform, still remain in the Lok Sabha. Congress leaders slammed the government’s actions as a “murder” of democracy, comparing it to the North Korean regime.

In both Houses, Opposition MPs were protesting last week’s security breach in Parliament, demanding a statement from the Home Minister Amit Shah and a detailed discussion on the breach. BJP leaders were incensed that the protestors carried placards showing pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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VP anguished by Opposition mockery

Though there were no suspensions in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, the Upper House saw repeated adjournments. Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar also expressed his anguish that he had been mocked by Trinamool Congress MP Kalyan Banerjee, with Congress MP Rahul Gandhi making a video of it.

Leader of the House Piyush Goyal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said that it showed the attitude of the Opposition, which is against the Vice President and the Jat community to which he belongs. “The institution of the Chairman has been ravaged and that too by a political party that has gone so far that a Member of Parliament, a senior one, videographs the other member. For what?” Mr. Dhankhar asked.

Opposition decimated in LS

The Lok Sabha currently has 198 Opposition MPs, though this figure includes those from parties which often align with the government, such as the Biju Janata Dal, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), and Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP). Of the 139 INDIA bloc MPs, 95 have been suspended.

Pandemonium broke out in the Lok Sabha as soon as it assembled for the day, with Opposition MPs trooping into the well shouting slogans and carrying placards, some bearing a photograph of Mr. Modi.

Speaker Om Birla took strong objection to this. “This House belongs to you. We all have decided that no one will bring placards inside the House. But you have come here with placards. Even you have come to the podium. Is it correct? Please go back to your seat. I am giving you last warning,” Mr. Birla said.

‘Disrespect to PM’

Asserting that he had been giving equal opportunities to all MPs to speak, the Speaker said that they should cooperate and take part in the proceedings. “You may criticise the government, but is it proper to stage protests like this? Do you want to set a precedent of such kind of protests? The whole country is watching your behaviour,” he said, claiming that the protesting MPs were forcing him to take action against them, though he did not wish to do so.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi also objected to the display of placards carrying pictures of Mr. Modi. “I strongly condemn the showing of the Prime Minister’s morphed picture. It is complete disrespect to the honourable Prime Minister. People of the country have taught the Opposition a good lesson in the recent Assembly elections. They were badly defeated. People have thrown them out. I condemn this behaviour, the whole House condemns this. Action must be taken against those who brought the morphed pictures,” he said.

Mass suspensions

When the House reassembled at 1 p.m. after two brief adjournments, BJP MP Rajendra Agrawal read out the names of the 49 Opposition MPs who were being suspended. The list included Congress MPs Shashi Tharoor, Manish Tewari, Gurjeet Singh Aujla, Pradyut Bordoloi, Karti Chidambaram, and Ravneet Singh Bittu; DMK MPs S. Jagathrakshakan, S.R. Parthiban, A. Ganeshamurthi, P. Velusamy, Senthilkumar, and M. Dhanush Kumar; Nationalist Congress Party MPs Supriya Sule, Amol Kolhe, and P.P. Mohd Faizal; Samajwadi Party MPs Dimple Yadav and S.T. Hasan; Aam Aadmi Party MP Sushil Kumar Rinku; the suspended Bahujan Samaj Party MP Danish Ali; and senior National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah.

After the suspensions, the House took up three important Bills for consideration and passing: The Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita, 2023, The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023 and The Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bill, 2023.

‘Opposition-mukt Lok Sabha’

After they were suspended, the Opposition lawmakers held an impromptu protest just outside the main gate of the Parliament. Mr. Karti Chidambaram said that Parliament would soon resemble the North Korean assembly, while his party colleague Mr. Tharoor said that what was happening is “disgraceful, to be very blunt”.

“They have no desire to have a democratic system of parliamentary democracy at work. What they are interested in is to have an Opposition-mukt Lok Sabha. So, we are seeing a situation where we feel there is no respect for parliamentary democracy,” Mr. Tharoor said. Another Congress MP Manish Tewari said that Parliament had been totally delegitimised. “Today democracy is being mercilessly murdered by the Modi government,” the Congress said in a statement.

Repeated adjournments

In the Rajya Sabha, Zero Hour and Question Hour could not be taken up amid the protests by Opposition MPs. Mr. Dhankhar said that he had decided to reject the four notices received under Rule 267 for suspending the day’s business and discussing the security breach, saying that they did not merit admittance. He adjourned the House till noon, as Opposition members raised slogans demanding the presence of Mr. Shah.

At noon, similar scenes continued and the Chairman adjourned the House till 2 p.m, and then again till 3 p.m., followed by two more adjournments. In the midst of the chaos, the Rajya Sabha passed two Appropriation Bills and the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second (Amendment) Bill, which had also been passed by the Lok Sabha.

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