These days Congress is being cornered on all fronts by the ruling party. The latest example is that yesterday, the Lok Sabha, through a motion it passed, suspended seven Congress members for the remaining period of the Budget session for their ‘gross misconduct’ after they snatched papers from the table of Speaker Om Prakash Birla and for ‘utter disregard’ for House rules. The suspended members are Gaurav Gogoi, TN Prathapan, Dean Kuriakose, Manicka Tagore, Rajmohan Unnithan, Benny Behanan and Gurjeet Singh Aujla.
Parliamentary Affairs minister Pralhad Joshi said that his party has requested the Speaker to set up a panel to look into the continuous “indiscipline” by Congress members. “Snatching papers from the Speaker’s table is utmost disrespect to the Chair. We condemn this,” he observed.
Congress’s leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that it was a “government decision” and not one taken by the Speaker. Asserting that the Congress members had done nothing wrong, he said that it was a “dictatorial decision” and one that was motivated by “revenge politics.” “We saw revenge politics in the House, orders were given by the chairperson to suspend seven Congress MPs for this session,” Chowdhury said.
He alleged that the suspension was an attempt to weaken the party in the House as the government fears a discussion on the Delhi riots in Parliament.
Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said the “unruly” behaviour was “unprecedented” and would have shocked the country’s founding fathers. “We welcome the decision to suspend the unruly Congress members,” he said.
As soon as the House met at 3 pm following an adjournment, Meenakshi Lekhi, who was presiding over the House, named the lawmakers. Once a member is named by the Chair, he or she cannot attend the House for that day. She said when the House was discussing the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020, some members “forcefully” snatched and tossed papers from the Speaker’s podium.
“Such unfortunate incident has possibly happened for the first time in the parliamentary history…I condemn this behaviour,” she said while naming the members.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi then moved a motion to suspend these members from the House for the remaining period of the Budget session. The motion was passed by a voice vote amid protests by opposition members.
Responding to the suspension, the Congress declared it as a “dictatorial decision” by the government aimed at weakening the opposition’s voice ahead of a debate over Delhi riots.