New Delhi, Sep 21 (PTI) The Congress on Monday termed 'undemocratic' and 'one-sided' the suspension of eight Opposition Rajya Sabha MPs, including three of its own, with Rahul Gandhi saying the 'muting of democratic India” continues by initially silencing and later suspending the parliamentarians.
The suspension of the eight members comes a day after the Upper House witnessed unprecedented unruly scenes by protesting opposition members during the passage of two farm bills. Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on Monday also rejected a notice for a no confidence motion against Deputy Chairman Harivansh on the grounds that proper procedure was not followed.
' 'Muting Of Democratic India' continues: by initially silencing and later, suspending MPs in the Parliament & turning a blind eye to farmers' concerns on the black agriculture laws,' Gandhi said in a tweet.
'This 'omniscient' Govt's endless arrogance has brought economic disaster for the entire country,' the former Congress chief said.
The party’s leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and its chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also spoke out on the issue.
Referring to the passage of the farm bills in the Upper House, the Congress leaders addressed a press conference outside Parliament, accusing Harivansh of acting at the behest of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
Chowdhury alleged that the newly elected deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha was working under government obligation. 'At the behest of PMO, he tried to muzzle and throttle the voices of the opposition parties,' he said.
'That is the reason there was commotion inside the Rajya Sabha. Now, in order to divert attention from the plight of farmers, they are trying to project that the commotion inside the Rajya Sabha was because we do not know how Parliament is run or how to participate in a parliamentary system,' Chowdhury said.
He said Opposition members in the House had sought division in accordance with the rules but were ignored.
'We are also entitled to move a no confidence motion against the deputy chairman if it is perceived by us that the deputy chairman is playing a partisan role,' Chowdhury said.
The onus is on the opposition to raise the issue using the instruments available within the ambit of a parliamentary system and democratic rights, he said. 'I condemn this kind of expulsion of members of Rajya Sabha in such a brazen and undemocratic manner… we will be protesting to restore the status quo ante of our honourable members of Rajya Sabha,' Chowdhury told reporters.
Addressing the media with Chowdhury, Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa and party leader Kuljit Singh Nagra as well as Surjewala alleged that the livelihood of farmers was being throttled.
'Democracy is being finished in the country to save the rule of Modi. The Modi government has turned Parliament into its dictatorial Gujarat model. Elected democracy has now become one-sided autocracy,' Surjewala alleged.
Democratic traditions, the voice of the opposition and farmers' cries are being 'murdered' through dictatorial actions. 'The way eight members were suspended in a one-sided manner, the way our colleagues' voices against the black farm laws were suppressed, the manner in which representatives of farmers inside Parliament and farmers' voices outside are being suppressed… the country will not forgive you Modi ji,' Surjewala said.
Is asking for division on these 'black laws' unparliamentary or a sin, he asked.
'How can it be a sin to ask for division? Is it in the parliamentary system to call in marshals to throw out members? Is it democratic tradition to cut off Rajya Sabha TV's voice?' Continuing the series of questions, Surjewala asked whether it was democratic to reject the notice for a no confidence motion against the deputy chairman by so many Rajya Sabha members.
Earlier in the day, the Congress leader posted his queries on Twitter.
'Is it a sin to raise the voice of the farmer in Parliament? Have dictators held Parliament hostage?' Surjewala said.
'Do you not listen to the voice of truth under the influence of power? How many voices will you suppress Modi ji...Of the farmers, of workers, of small shopkeeper, of Parliament,' he tweeted with the hashtag 'Kisaan Virodhi (anti-farmer) Modi'.
The government on Monday moved a motion seeking the suspension of Derek O'Brien (TMC), Sanjay Singh (AAP), Rajeev Satav (Congress), K K Ragesh (CPM), Syed Nazir Hussain (Congress), Ripun Boren (Congress), Dola Sen (TMC) and Elamaram Kareem (CPM).
The motion was adopted by voice vote amid opposition, and Chairman Naidu asked them to leave the House but they remained present and protested the ruling. The MPs have been suspended for the remainder of the Monsoon session Naidu condemned the unruly behaviour and 'threats' to Harivansh during the passage of the farm bills.
The Farmer's Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 were passed by the Rajya Sabha on Sunday with a voice vote, amid unprecedented unruly scenes by protesting opposition members demanding that the proposed legislations be referred to a House panel for greater scrutiny.
The two bills have already been passed by the Lok Sabha and will now go to the president for his assent before they are notified as laws.
The top brass of the Central government on Sunday flayed the opposition over its members' 'unruly conduct' in the Rajya Sabha during the passage of the bills, describing their behaviour as 'extremely shameful' and unprecedented in Parliament history.
Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Prakash Javadekar, Pralhad Joshi, Piyush Goyal, Thawarchand Gehlot and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi held a press conference to hit out at opposition members, with Singh asserting that such conduct was not expected in a healthy democracy. PTI ASK MIN MIN