New Delhi: Four Congress Lok Sabha members were suspended on Monday for the rest of the Monsoon Session for displaying placards and disrupting proceedings despite warnings by Speaker Om Birla. The move is expected to further deteriorate the government-Opposition relation, and could hit the proceedings of the Lok Sabha.
Calling the actions against its MPs a "blot on democracy", the Congress alleged that the government was trying to "intimidate" it for raising people's issues and said it would not be cowed down.
Opposition protests over price rise, GST and other issues on Monday marred Lok Sabha proceedings for the sixth consecutive day.
As the protesting Opposition members stalled proceedings after it reassembled following an adjournment of around 20 minutes, the Chair named Congress MPs Manickam Tagore (from Tamil Nadu, also the Telangana Congress incharge), T.N. Prathapan, Jothimani and Ramya Haridas from Kerala. When a member is named, he or she has to immediately withdraw from House.
Parliamentary Affair Minister Prahlad Joshi then moved a resolution to suspend the four for the rest of the session. Joshi said that these MPs had shown "utter disregard" for the authority of the Chair and a "serious note of their misconduct" had been taken by the House.
Earlier when the House met for the day at around 2 pm, Speaker Om Birla had warned the protesting members, including from the Congress, TMC and DMK, that those who continue to shout slogans and display placards will have to do it outside the House after 3 pm. As the Opposition members continued to protest, a visibly peeved Mr Birla told them that the government was ready to discuss issues raised by them and stressed that people want the House to function.
Mr Birla then adjourned the House till 3 pm. However, as the House proceedings resumed, waving of placards and sloganeering continued, drowning the voices of members participating in the Zero Hour. Rajendra Agarwal, who was chairing the proceedings, implored the opposition members to take note of the warning given by the Speaker.
He said that the members who had been suspended had shown "stubborn behaviour", "deliberately and continuously disrupted proceedings" and ignored House rules and directions of the Speaker. The House then passed the resolution by a voice vote and Agarwal announced their suspension. He then asked the members named in the resolution to immediately leave the House. The proceedings were then adjourned for the day.
Speaking with reporters along with the four suspended MPs, Congress' deputy leader in Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi said, "The government is trying to intimidate us by suspending our MPs. What was their fault? They were trying to raise the issues which matter to people." The Congress party will not be cowed down like this, he asserted.
"The MPs were holding placards raising the issues of rise in prices of gas cylinder, imposition of GST on items such as flour and buttermilk. We moved an adjournment motion demanding a discussion on these issues, but no discussion was held," he said.
Mr Tagore, one of the suspended MPs, said for the past six days, the Congress has been demanding a discussion on price rise, giving notices for adjournment motion but the government has shown "complete arrogance".
"Today, when a tribal woman has taken oath as President, a Dalit woman has been suspended from Lok Sabha," he said. Mr Tagore also alleged that the BJP only wants Parliament to cheer its leaders and its victory.
"We were trying to show placards in the House and place them in the camera angles. They say placards are not allowed in Parliament… What is allowed is only cheering for Modi ji," he said.
The government only hears the voice of the fourth-richest man in the world and not the common man, Mr Tagore alleged....