Eight Opposition MPs refuse to leave Rajya Sabha despite suspension

The Rajya Sabha on Monday suspended eight Opposition MPs for their “unruly” behaviour with Deputy Chairman Harivansh on Sunday during the debate and voting on the two farm sector Bills.

Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu also rejected the Opposition’s no-confidence motion against the Deputy Chairman, saying the notice was not in a proper format.

However the suspended MPs refused to leave the House and the day’s proceedings saw repeated disruptions and adjournments.

After four adjournments, Vice-Chairman Bhubaneswar Kalita adjourned the House till 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

Speaking on the events of Sunday after the completion of Zero Hour and special mentions, Mr. Naidu said the incidents were unfortunate and that the image of Parliament had been “tarnished”.

He said some members had entered the well of the House, thrown papers, broken microphones and abused Mr. Harivansh while the two Bills were being discussed. He added that the Deputy Chairman had been physically threatened.

“It pained me a lot because what happened yesterday in the house is unfortunate, unacceptable and condemnable,” Mr. Naidu said, adding that the members had also violated the COVID-19-related protocols.

He said the Deputy Chairman would have called for voting, which was the demand of the protesting MPs, had the House been in order.

Mr. Naidu also rejected the Opposition’s notice of no-confidence against Mr. Harivansh for not allowing a division of votes. Stating that he had received a letter from Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad and 46 other MPs, Mr. Naidu said the no-confidence notice was not in the proper format and that the 14 day-notice period was not followed as the session is set to end on October 1.

The government then moved a motion for the suspension of eight MPs — Derek O’Brien and Dola Sen of the Trinamool Congress; Sanjay Singh of the Aam Aadmi Party, Congress’s Rajeev Satav, Syed Nazir Hussain and Ripun Bora; and K.K. Ragesh and Elamaram Kareem of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) — which was passed by voice vote amid the commotion.

Later, addressing a press conference to put forth the “government’s” view on the developments in the Rajya Sabha, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the suspended MPs violated Rule 256 of the general rules of procedure by not leaving the House after being suspended.

The motion moved by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V. Muraleedharan sought to suspend the eight MPs for “unruly behaviour especially with the Chair and their gross disorderly conduct in violation of the rules and etiquette of Rajya Sabha thereby bringing disrepute to this august house and causing insult to the Office of the Hon’ble Deputy Chairman” for one week or the remainder of the current part of the session.

Speaking to reporters, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said the Opposition MPs who continued to stay in the House after being suspended “do not have trust in institutions”.

In his press conference, Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad responded to the Opposition’s claim that the Deputy Chairman did not allow voting on their resolutions to the send the two farm Bills to a select committee on Sunday, and said Mr. Harivansh had asked the MPs to go back to their seats so that a division can take place “13 times”. Instead, he said, the conduct of the MPs was “shameful” as they broke mics and tore the rule book.

While the Opposition claimed the ruling party did not have the numbers, Mr. Prasad said: “We have a clear majority in the Rajya Sabha. Out of the members present, 110 were clearly supporting the Bills and only 72 were opposing”.

He said the people of Bihar, where Mr. Harivansh is elected from, would “give a reply” to the Opposition parties, particularly the Congress and RJD, for the way he was treated in the House. Mr. Prasad’s statement comes at a time that the Bihar Assembly elections are around the corner.

“Opposition parties will have to answer in Bihar...We won't make this a political issue,” he said.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2020 1:45:25 PM |

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