Speaker Suspends 14 Opposition MPs

New Delhi: A day after Parliament witnessed a major security breach, 14 MPs from Opposition parties, including one from the Rajya Sabha, were suspended for the remaining session by the Chairs of the respective Houses on Thursday. Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha witnessed repeated adjournments over the Opposition members' demand for a statement from Union home minister Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the security breach in the Lok Sabha and then over the suspension of their colleagues. The government asked the Opposition not to "politicise" the "grave national issue".

The Lok Sabha had initially suspended 14 members, but later the suspension of DMK MP S.R. Parthiban was revoked as he was not present in the House.

"A total of 13 MPs have been suspended from the Lok Sabha. An MP who was not present at the well was also suspended... We requested the Lok Sabha Speaker to drop his name and the Speaker accepted it," parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi told reporters in the evening.

Stringent measures were put in place in and around the Parliament building a day after the security breach, with police and the Parliament security staff thoroughly checking the credentials of those entering the complex.

In the Lok Sabha, as the House met in the morning, the MPs from Opposition parties moved into the Well of the House, raising slogans with demands of a statement from the government on the security breach, leading to the first adjournment during the Question Hour till 2 pm amid uproar. Speaker Om Birla asserted that the security of the Parliament complex is the responsibility of the Lok Sabha secretariat.

"It is our jurisdiction," Mr Birla asserted.He told the Opposition members that he was ready to again discuss the security breach issue with them. The ministry of home affairs (MHA) has already ordered a probe into the Parliament security breach incident following a request from the Lok Sabha Secretariat.

Before the first adjournment, defence minister and deputy leader of the House Rajnath Singh requested all members to come together and condemn the incident and said there was no point in protesting in the House.

"All have condemned it. We need to be careful... We should not give passes to those who create disturbances," Mr Singh said amid the din. Unrelenting Opposition MPs, however, continued with their demand, forcing the Chair to adjourn the House.

When the House reassembled at 2 pm, parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi read a statement on behalf of the government and said internal security in Parliament comes under the purview of the Speaker.

"We all agree that the unfortunate incident on Wednesday was a serious one concerning the safety and security of MPs,” said Mr Joshi, adding that it should be appreciated that the Lok Sabha Speaker promptly held a meeting with floor leaders following the incident and listened to the suggestions for further strengthening Parliament security.

Some of the suggestions given by MPs have already been implemented, he said, adding that the Speaker himself has stated that further measures will be taken to strengthen the security of Parliament.

"In my opinion, this matter concerns all of us and we have to speak in one voice... On such a grave national issue, no politics is expected to be done by anyone,” the minister asserted and asked all MPs to rise above party politics.

The minister also listed past incidents when such security breaches took place in Parliament. He then moved a resolution amid the din to suspend five MPs.

"I move the following that this House, having taken the misconduct of T.N. Prathapan, Hibi Eden, Jothimani, Ramya Haridas and Dean Kuriakose (all Congress members) in utter disregard for the House and the authority of this Chair and having been named by the Chair…to be suspended from the service of the House for reminder session," the resolution read.

The House was then adjourned till 3 pm. RLP's Hanuman Beniwal was seen trying to scale the Speaker's podium as the Opposition members raised slogans against the government over security breach.

As soon as the House met at 3 pm, Mr Joshi moved a second resolution to suspend another nine members -- V.K. Sreekandan (Congress), Benny Behanan (Congress), Mohammad Jawed (Congress), P.R. Natarajan (CPI(M)), Kanimozhi (DMK), K. Subbarayan (CPI), S.R. Parthiban (DMK), S. Venkatesan (CPI(M)) and Manickam Tagore (Congress).

An MP claimed later that Mr Prathiban was named among the suspended MPs even though he is not present in Delhi and is in Chennai. Later, the Lok Sabha Speaker revoked the suspension of Mr Parthiban.

In Rajya Sabha, Chairman Jagdeep Dhankar suspended TMC member Derek O'Brien for the remaining part of the Winter Session for his "unruly behaviour" and "misconduct" in the House, which saw protests by the Opposition parties members over the security breach. The House later also referred the matter of the TMC member’s presence in the House despite his suspension to the committee of privileges. The Upper House witnessed five adjournments before it was adjourned for the day.

When the House assembled in the morning, Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar disallowed as many as 28 notices served by the Opposition MPs, who sought the suspension of business for the day to discuss the December 13 security breach.

The Opposition MPs, however, pressed for a discussion and moved into the Well of the House. They shouted slogans and demanded a reply from Mr Shah. Mr Dhankhar condemned the unruly behaviour of the MPs, saying it violated the rules.

At this point, Mr O'Brien moved into the area in front of the Chair and flung his arms in the air. This infuriated Mr Dhankhar, who named the TMC member and said he should leave the House. A person named by the Chair has to withdraw from the proceedings for the day.

Mr Dhankhar called the TMC member’s conduct a "defiance" of the Chair and "serious misconduct". As the slogan-shouting did not stop, Mr Dhankhar adjourned the proceedings of the House till 12 noon.

Soon after the House met at noon, Mr Dhankhar warned the TMC member against disrupting the proceedings and unruly behaviour and also named him. He asked Mr O'Brien to leave the House, but Opposition MPs did not relent and protested instead.

He then allowed Leader of the House Piyush Goyal to move a motion to suspend Mr O'Brien under Rule 256.

The House witnessed five adjournments till 4 pm as Mr Dhankhar said transaction of business is "adversely affected" due to the "defiance" of the TMC member who continued to be present in the Upper House despite his suspension.

After leaving the House when it got adjourned for the day, Mr O'brien held a silent protest in the Parliament complex and refused to speak on the issue.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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