MPs’ suspension: Govt believes Opp missed chance to present its side

Justifying the suspension of 12 Opposition members from the Rajya Sabha on the first day of the Winter Session, government sources said the Opposition leaders could have presented their side of the story had they agreed to be part of a committee to look into the events of August 11.

They also argued that since the events happened on the last day of the previous session, Monday was the first opportunity for the government to bring in a motion to suspend them. Sources also said should the suspended members apologise for their actions, the government might reconsider its stand.

Government sources pointed out that soon after the end of the previous session, Union minister Piyush Goyal had written to Vice-President and Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu complaining against the conduct of 20 MPs in the House, and seeking a special disciplinary committee to decide “exemplary disciplinary action” against them and formulate a code of conduct. However, a senior government source said, “many Opposition parties refused to be a part of it” even after the Chairman requested them. “If such a committee would have been formed, each party could have had a chance to explain their position and raise their concerns.”

The source admitted that there was “no precedent of such action (of suspension) after a session”, but added, “there is also no precedent to such unruly and obnoxious behaviour”.

The source also called what happened in the Monsoon Session “a planned attack” to ensure that the House did not run, and said the MPs concerned had not just obstructed Prime Minister Narendra Modi but also others from speaking.

Referring to Naidu “breaking down” during his remarks on August 11 morning, the source mentioned that “the Chairman’s trauma was literally the last straw and action had to be initiated at the first available opportunity, which was the opening day of the Winter Session.”

The claims that disruptions happened when Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj led the Opposition were lies, the source said. “The BJP never used force or resorted to violence or impinged on the privileges of other MPs.”

On Monday morning, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi wrote a three-page letter to Naidu to be allowed to bring the motion to suspend the 12 Opposition MPs, highlighting several instances of alleged unruly behaviour on part of several members.

Mentioning the events of August 11, he alleged that the CPM’s Elamaram Kareem “physically assaulted and tried to asphyxiate a marshal on Duty” and the Congress’s Phulo Devi Netam and Chhaya Verma “pulled, dragged and assaulted a female marshal”. He called these instances “unfathomable and nothing short of sacrilege”, and said these “demand exemplary remedy”.

Beyond the incidents mentioned by Joshi, the government has also raised alleged “unprecedented acts of misconduct” by the suspended members, including the TMC’s Dola Sen making a loop of a scarf to portray a noose and putting it around Chhetri’s neck; Netam, Verma, the Congress’s Syed Nasir Hussain and Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi tearing papers and throwing them on the Table of the House; Kareem, the CPI’s Binoy Viswam, the Congress’s Rajmani Patel and Sena’s Anil Desai snatching papers from the Table of the House; the Congress’s Akhilesh Prasad Singh making a video of the security staff; Sen pushing a lady marshal; the Congress’s Ripun Bora climbing the LED TV stand; and Hussain and Kareem trying to drag a marshal away from the security cordon.

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