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Opposition stages walkout as M Venkaiah Naidu refuses to revoke suspensions

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 30

Parliament on Tuesday appeared headed towards another spell of disruptions with the Opposition walking out of both Houses to protest the suspension of 12 Rajya Sabha MPs and Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu ruling out reconsideration of his decision.

The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were adjourned without transacting any business after the Opposition staged a walkout from both Houses and later boycotted the Upper House for the day.

No remorse yet

MPs who committed sacrilege against the House have not expressed any remorse.

Venkaiah Naidu, RS Chairman

Apology for what?

Apologise? For raising people’s voices in Parl? No way. Rahul Gandhi, Cong

‘Accept your mistake’

Everyone can make a mistake. Wisdom lies in accepting and regretting it. We all want our friends to return to the House. Piyush Goyal, Leader of Rajya Sabha

The government said it could retract its steps if the erring MPs apologised for their “unprecedented misconduct on August 11, 2020, the last day of the monsoon session”. Both sides dug in heels with the Opposition rejecting the government’s proposal and Rahul Gandhi asking: “Apologise for what, for raising people’s voices in Parliament? No way.” Sixteen Opposition parties jointly strategised on the issue at the Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge’s chamber this morning and walked out together. The TMC skipped the meeting, boycotting RS and protesting outside Parliament on its own.

TMC’s Derek O Brien later also announced that the suspended MPs would start a sit-in at Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in Parliament from tomorrow onwards.

In the RS, a visibly agitated Naidu said members who committed sacrilege against the House on August 11 had not expressed any remorse. “On the other hand, they are justifying it. I don’t think the appeal of the Leader of Opposition is worth considering. I am not considering it at all,” Naidu said, dismissing Kharge’s points of order—that the chair did not name MPs before suspending them, though rules mandate this, and that actions pertaining to MPs’ conduct in a session the President had prorogued couldn’t taken in the current session. Naidu called the RS a continuing House in defence of the government motion of suspension, which RS passed yesterday. Kharge, however, again challenged the Chairman through a late-night letter, which said, “The argument of continuity would have held had the President not prorogued the House on August 31 and the House had only been adjourned without prorogation.”

The government defended the suspensions after the Opposition said the MPs had not been heard. “It was the Opposition that refused to join the committee we had was proposed to go into the issue,” leader of Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal said as acrimony persisted all day. Naidu asked the Opposition not to sermonise him on democracy.

“You disturbed the House, ransacked the table, threw papers on the chair, some MPs stepped on the table and you are giving me lessons now. Everyone was named on August 10,” Naidu said to Kharge, who claimed one of the suspended MPs had not been named by the chair in the last session.

Goyal later recounted “unprecedented misconduct of MPs on August 11 with one of them attempting to pull out an LED screen in the chamber” and argued that preserving the dignity of the House had become obligatory, and hence the motion of suspension. The government, however, urged MPs to apologise with Goyal noting, “Everyone can make a mistake. Wisdom lies in accepting and regretting it. We all want our friends to return to the House.” The government also suspended all business until tomorrow noting that the Opposition boycott was only for a day. There was no sign of thaw in the matter though as Kharge shot off a late-evening letter to Naidu asking for revocation of suspensions in “larger interest of democracy.” The Opposition said it would strategise its next move tomorrow.

Oppn’s argument

RS Chairman has to name MPs before they can be suspended; one of the MPs not named
Govt can’t take action in the current session for conduct in a previous session prorogued by the President
The MPs not heard by the government before being suspended

Govt’s retort

All 12 (suspended) MPs named on Aug 10 and repeatedly warned, but they created ruckus on Aug 11 too
Since misconduct pertained to last day of previous session, suspension done at first available opportunity
Oppn refused to join the panel that was proposed to go into the matter

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