Six Congress Lok Sabha members were on Monday suspended from the house for five consecutive sittings after they tore up papers and threw them in the air and towards the Speaker’s podium to protest her decision disallowing a discussion on atrocities against Dalits and Muslims by cow vigilantes.
The opposition parties protested against the decision and have decided to sit on a protest on Tuesday morning near the Mahatma Gandhi statue in the Parliament premises while the government described the Congress members’ action as a “black day” in the history of parliamentary democracy.
The six MPs — Gaurav Gogoi, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Ranjit Ranjan, Sushmita Dev, M.K. Raghavan and K. Suresh — would have to remain out of the lower House for the whole of this week.
The action by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan came after her persistent request to the Congress members to allow the house to run went unheeded as they remained adamant that the issue is discussed immediately.
Mahajan also warned the Congress members during Question Hour when they were raising slogans demanding discussion on the issue.
During Zero Hour, as the Congress MPs were protesting, the six MPs tore up papers and threw them in the air and towards the Speaker’s podium. At the time Mahajan continued with Zero Hour.
“I want to see how much indiscipline was possible,” she remarked.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar demanded action against the members who threw papers.
“This behaviour was not expected from Congress. This is shameful. There must be action against those who threw the papers. The members should be named,” he said.
Amid the din, two BJP members raised the issue of Bofors scandal and demanded the case be reopened. After that Mahajan adjourned the House for lunch.
When the House met post lunch, Mahajan announced the suspension of six Congress members.
“This conduct is not right. It is highly unbecoming and against the rules of the house which seeks to undermine the dignity of the House,” she said.
Ruling that these members were “willfully obstructing” the house and had caused disorder, she announced their suspension under rule 374 A for “five consecutive sittings”.
She then adjourned the House till 2.30 p.m.
When the House reassembled, opposition members rushed towards the Speaker’s podium protesting against her decision. Deputy Speaker M. Thambidurai, who was in the chair, urged the suspended members not to attend the proceedings but the opposition members continued protesting. Amid the din, he adjourned the House for the day.
Afterwards, opposition members held a discussion inside the House with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
The opposition members will meet on Tuesday morning to decide their strategy on the issue. They will sit on protest near Mahatma Gandhi statue.
Talking to reporters later, Ananth Kumar came down heavily on Congress. “It was a black day of Parliamentary democracy. Even we were in opposition for 10 years but we never behaved like the way opposition behaved,” he said.
He said the Bofors scam issue has again come to the fore and the country wants to know the truth from the Congress.
Mahajan defended her decision, saying creating ruckus near podium is non-disciplinary in itself but tearing up paper and throwing it on the Speaker four times was worse.
Right from when the House met for the day, it witnessed noisy scenes as the Opposition members led by Congress created pandemonium, demanding a discussion.
Congress members staged a sit-in near the Speaker’s podium throughout Question Hour as Mahajan refused to permit discussion on the issue.
While Opposition Leader Mallikarjun Kharge spoke on the issue as the Zero Hour started, Opposition members trooped near the Speaker’s podium as a discussion was not allowed and kept raising anti-government slogans and throwing bits of paper.