congress: Congress slams govt over suspension of MPs, calls it ‘blot on democracy’

The Congress on Monday described as a “blot on democracy” the suspension of four of its MPs for the rest of the session for disrupting proceedings in Lok Sabha, saying the government was trying to “intimidate” it but it would not be cowed down.

Four Congress MPs — Manickam Tagore, TN Prathapan, Jothimani, and Ramya Haridas — were suspended from Lok Sabha for the rest of the session for displaying placards and disrupting proceedings despite a warning by Speaker Om Birla.

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 cylinders, and 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.

Tagore, one of the suspended MPs, alleged that the government “only hears the voice of the fourth-richest man in the world and not the common man.”

Tagore was apparently referring to industrialist Gautam Adani, who recently became the world’s fourth richest man, surpassing Bill Gates, with an estimated wealth of $116 billion.

The Congress has been demanding a discussion on price rise, giving notices for adjournment motion but the government has shown “complete arrogance”, the Congress’ chief whip in Lok Sabha said.

“Today, when a tribal woman has taken oath as President, a Dalit woman has been suspended from Lok Sabha,” he said.

He said 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.

Asked about the suspension at a press conference at the AICC headquarters here, party spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil said there is a tradition in Parliament that suspension is done only in exceptional and rarest of the rare circumstances when the member is unruly and there is no other option but suspension of that member.

“When Sukh Ram ji was our minister, the BJP had not allowed Parliament to function for 17 days alleging corruption against him. Sukh Ram ji had resigned and we had also allowed debate. There was no suspension,” Gohil said.

“It is a tradition of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha that the member comes to the well of the House, it gets adjourned, there is a dialogue, a middle path is found and work goes on. Suspension is not the way and in the past, suspension has not happened in this manner,” he said.

Gohil pointed out that the Speaker or Chairman has the right to name members, ask them to go out or adjourn the House, hold dialogue and find a way.

“Never has the Parliament been run by suspending Opposition members, by just having their way. This kind of way of running the House, what Hitler had done, are we going in that direction where Parliament will be run without the Opposition,” Gohil said.

Inflation is an important issue and the Opposition wanted a discussion on it, he said, adding that if “you don’t agree to it, we are left with no option but to shout, go to the well. What else would we do?”

He said that when the BJP was in Opposition it had done the same thing repeatedly, and argued that stalling the House is a tactic of the Opposition which is in public interest and running of the House is the job of the party in power.

“Suspension instead of dialogue is a blot on democracy,” he said.

As the protesting opposition members again stalled proceedings on Monday, the Chair named Congress MPs Manickam Tagore, TN Prathapan, Jothimani and Ramya Haridas. When a member is named, he or she has to immediately withdraw from the chamber of the House.

Parliamentary Affair Minister Pralhad Joshi then moved a resolution to suspend the four MPs 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.

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