House rules save Cong MPs in RS

A set of Rajya Sabha rules has come in the way of NDA parliamentarians plea to Chairman Hamid Ansari from getting disrupting Congress MPs suspended.

“You and deputy chairman have time and again appealed to such members and have warned them that they should go back to their seats and should not disrupt. But they continue to disrupt the house proceedings despite your warnings,” 30 NDA MPs wrote to Rajya Sabha chairman on Friday.

BJP MP Dilipbhai Pandya, who hails from Gujarat and was the first to sign the letter, told Deccan Herald on Friday that they have not heard from the chairman’s office.

Rajya Sabha secretariat sources said unlike rule 374(a) of the Lok Sabha that empowered Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to take collective punitive action against 25 placard holding Congress MPs for agitating in the Well of the House, the Rajya Sabha chairman can on his own take action against only one member for “disorderly conduct”.

According to Rule 255 of the Rajya Sabha’s “rules of procedure and conduct of business”,  the “chairman may direct any member whose conduct is in his opinion grossly disorderly to withdraw immediately from the Council and any member so ordered to withdraw shall do so forthwith and shall absent himself during the remainder of the day's meeting”.

The chairman can also suspend a member by invoking Rule 256. “The chairman may, if he deems it necessary, name a member who disregards the authority of the Chair or abuses the rules of the Council by persistently and wilfully obstructing the business thereof,” the rule specified.

The rule, however, provides a window for early termination of the suspension of the member through a motion brought in the Upper House.

The NDA members’ move will not be able to yield political dividends since for seeking more Congress members’ suspension, the Centre will have to move a motion.

The BJP’s strategy was to get Congress out of the House so that it can get legislations passed through the Rajya Sabha where the Opposition is in majority. The Congress has nearly 65 MPs in the House.

Meanwhile, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu called up the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on Friday, suggesting them to request the Speaker to withdraw suspension of its 25 MPs.

But, the Congress is not going to oblige the Narendra Modi government as it believes that suspension has turned out to be a blessing in disguise giving the opposition political mileage by default which it could not get while protesting inside the House.

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