Confrontation between government and Opposition is set to escalate with Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan today suspending 25 Congress members for five days for “persistently, wilfully obstructing” the House”.
The Speaker ‘named’ (identifying for action) the 25 Congress members who were carrying placards and shouting slogans in the Well while pressing for resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje over Lalit Modi row and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over Vyapam scam.
While taking the tough action under Rule 374(A), she said the members were being suspended for “persistently, wilfully obstructing the House”.
She ruled that the ‘named’ members will not attend five sittings of the House. Congress has 44 members in all.
Mahajan adjourned the House immediately after. However, a number of the Congress members staged a sit-in in the House.
Her action came after several warnings and despite pleas by TMC leader Sudip Bandhyopadhyay and CPI(M) leader P Karunakaran that it would aggravate the situation.
The Rule 374(A) says: “Notwithstanding anything contained in rules 373 and 374, in the event of grave disorder occasioned by a member coming into the well of the House or abusing the Rules of the House persistently and wilfully obstructing its business by shouting slogans or otherwise, such member shall, on being named by the Speaker, stand automatically suspended from the service of the House for five consecutive sittings or the remainder of the session, whichever is less.”
The move came after the government approached the Speaker slamming the Opposition for obstructing the House for the past several days.
Such a major action is the first in the current Lok Sabha.
The suspended members included B N Chandrappa, Santok Singh Chaudhary, A H K Choudhury, Sushmita Dev, Ninog Ering, R Dhruvanarayana, Gaurav Gogoi, G Sukender Reddy, Deepender Hooda, S Kodikunnil, S P Muddahanumegowda, Abhijit Mukherjee, Mullappally Ramachandran, K H Munniyappa, B V Nayak, Vincent Pala, M K Raghavan, Ranjeet Ranjan, C L Ruala, T Sahu, Rajee Satav, Ravneet Singh K Suresh, K C Venugopal and T Meinya.
Sonia Gandhi was angry at the Speaker’s decision and asked Leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge to lodge protest.
Kharge, while objecting to the Speaker’s action, said “our demand is that the ministers resign. Then everything will be peaceful”.
Amid the bedlam, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said there is no FIR, no court observation and no prima facie case against Swaraj as well as the two Chief Ministers and hence there is “no justification” for them to resign.
He said the CVC too has not pointed out any wrongdoing. “We have not shied away from discussion and we are ready for it.”
Singh said while Opposition has an important role in parliamentary democracy, the House should be allowed to function.
His response came when Kharge opposed the Speaker’s move to name MPs from his party for disrupting the proceedings.
Before naming them, the Speaker repeatedly told Congress members not to display placards and return to their seats.
“Don’t force me to take stringent action…you cannot say they disrupted proceedings so we will also do the same…we cannot denegrade ourselves further,” Mahajan said.
Bandhopadhyay and Karunakaran urged the Speaker not to suspend the members and the warring parties should be given a change to resolve issue as they are “experienced politicians”.
Karunakaran recalled that BJP had stalled the Lok Sabha as opposition party for one month and such an action in the present Lok Sabh could be avoided.
The Speaker said if they are ready to take guarantee for Congress members, she could have a rethink.
Some members from Left parties were also in the Well raising slogans against the government but were not displaying placards.