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INDIA Bloc Takes out Protest March as Suspension of Members Continued

INDIA Bloc Takes out Protest March as Suspension of Members Continued

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Dec 21: INDIA bloc members on Thursday marched from Parliament to Vijay Chowk to protest the suspension of Opposition lawmakers even as three more opposition members, all from the Congress, were suspended for showing placards in the House taking the total number of suspended members to 146.

Carrying a huge ‘Save Democracy’ banner and placards with messages like ‘Opposition MPs Suspended’ ‘Parliament Caged’ and ‘‘Democracy Expelled’ written on them, the lawmakers took out the march with the Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, who led the march, asserted that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi had violated parliamentary privilege by not speaking on the security beach in the House while he had no qualms speaking on the sensitive issue outside Parliament.

Those suspended were Congress MPs Deepak Baij, DK Suresh and Nakul Nath, the son of veteran leader Kamal Nath. The number of MPs suspended from the lower house is now 100. Two MPs were suspended on Wednesday.

The wave of suspensions started earlier this week as the Opposition demanded a statement from the Union Home Minister about the security breach in the Lok Sabha when men had smuggled in smoke bombs and let them off during house proceedings.

Speaking with reporters at Vijay Chowk, Mr Kharge said it was the right of the Opposition to speak in a democracy and as representatives of people it was the legislators’ responsibility to convey the sentiments of the people in Parliament. The Opposition wanted to speak on the issue but Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah did not turn up either in the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha, even as the PM continued to make speeches elsewhere, Mr Kharge said.

Urging the government to “behave democratically,” Mr Kharge said, “We wanted to raise Parliament security breach issue as to why it happened and who is responsible,” Mr Kharge said. “Parliament is a big Panchayat. If one will not speak in Parliament where would one speak. It is unfortunate that Home Minister Shah and Prime Minister Modi did not come to the House to apprise about the security breach. They spoke about issues which should be spoken in the House, outside it.

Reacting to the suspension of MPs and passage of important bills in the absence of Opposition, Congress MP Karti Chidambaram said the government didn’t want the Opposition in the House.

“It’s like batting in a cricket match without any fielders. They are bringing very far-reaching laws which will have grave impact on to the daily life of this country, but they don’t want any discussion, debate or dissent about it,” he said.

“He [Modi] talks in Varanasi, Ahmedabad, on TV but not in Parliament. They have disrespected the House. He should come and speak in the House first, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Instead of that he was speaking outside. This is condemnable and it was a violation of privilege [of the House],” Mr Kharge alleged.

Opposition MPs are repeatedly requesting Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to allow the lawmakers to speak on the security breach issue, Mr Kharge said, alleging that the ruling party members were disturbing proceedings. This shows that the BJP does not have faith in democracy and does not want discussion and debate, the Congress chief alleged.

INDIA bloc leaders will protest at Jantar Mantar on Friday against suspension of MPs and nationwide protests will also be held in all district headquarters against the government’s “immoral and illegal” behaviour of this government, the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha said.

Congress’ leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Congress general secretary K.C. Venugopal, National Conference’s Hasnain Masoodi, JMM’s Mahua Maji, Samajwadi Party’s S.T. Hasan, flanked Mr Kharge as he made his remarks at Vijay Chowk.

In an apparent reference to the mimicry issue and Mr Dhankhar’s remarks on it, Mr Kharge said, “I am sorry to say that the Rajya Sabha Chairman has in a way brought casteism to Parliament by raising an issue.” A political row broke out on Tuesday after Trinamool Congress leader Kalyan Banerjee derisively mimicked Mr Dhankhar during the Opposition’s protest on the stairs of Parliament against the MPs’ suspension, drawing strong condemnation from the ruling BJP. Mr Dhankhar had given vent to his anguish in the Rajya Sabha, saying he was personally hurt as his farmer and Jat backgrounds were targeted.

In a post on X after the protest march, Mr Kharge said, “We, the people of India need to Save Democracy. Passing important legislations by suspending Opposition MPs is not Democracy. It is the worst kind of authoritarianism.” “Our future generations will not forgive us, if we do not raise our voices against this dictatorship, NOW!” he said.

After two men jumped in the Lok Sabha chamber on December 13 and released smoke from canisters, the Opposition has been disrupting House proceedings demanding a statement from Mr Shah on the security breach.

Lok Sabha on Thursday passed the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023. Rajya Sabha had already passed the Bill on December 12. The House then took up the Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill, 2023 and passed it via voice vote.

Earlier in the day, Lok Sabha resumed proceedings with Opposition members continuing their protest. Members were heard chanting, “tanashahi nahi chalegi [dictatorship will not work],” in the House even as the Question Hour continued.

The Telecommunications Bill, 2023 was passed in the Rajya Sabha. The bill seeks to reform and simplify the regulatory and licensing regime for telecommunications and remove bottlenecks in creating telecom infrastructure. It also allows the government to temporarily take control of telecom services in the interest of national security and provide a non-auction route for the allocation of satellite spectrum. It was passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

 

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