12 Rajya Sabha MPs suspended for entire Winter Session

12 Rajya Sabha MPs suspended for entire Winter Session; Opposition mulls boycott

This is the first time MPs were suspended for their actions in a previous session

The suspended MPs are from Congress, Trinamool Congress, CPI, CPI-M and Shiv Sena. Credit: PTI Photo

12 Opposition MPs in Rajya Sabha were on Monday suspended for the reminder of the Winter Session for "unprecedented acts of misconduct, contemptuous, unruly and violent behaviour" during the last Session, a move that is seen as the government setting stage for confrontation with the Opposition that is now mulling boycotting of the entire session.

Six MPs of Congress, two each from Shiv Sena, and one each from CPI(M) and CPI, which included five women lawmakers, were suspended from Rajya Sabha, soon after the government managed to clear The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021 in the Upper House was passed without any discussion.

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The action invited sharp criticism from the Opposition, which "unitedly condemned the unwarranted and undemocratic suspension" in violation of rules. In a joint statement, 13 parties -- Congress, DMK, Samajwadi Party, NCP, Shiv Sena, RJD, CPI(M), CPI, Muslim League, LJD, JD(S), MDMK, TRS and AAP -- emphasised the need to "resist the authoritarian decision of the government and defend Parliamentary democracy".

While a section in the Opposition has argued for boycotting the session, sources said, a final decision on the next course of action would be taken only during a meeting called by Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday Morning. Opposition leaders, barring those from Trinamool Congress, had met at Kharge's office on Monday evening.

Separately, Trinamool Congress also condemned the suspension but downplayed its non-attendance at the meeting. Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha Chief Whip Sukhendu Shekhar Ray said there would be "issue-based consideration" and there is no acrimony.

This is the first time MPs were suspended for their actions in a previous session and the Opposition is arguing that the suspension for an act in previous session cannot be enforced in a subsequent session. The MPs had on August 11 attempted to climb reporters' table and entered into a scuffle with marshals. MPs had claimed that marshals had manhandled them.

The hint for action came during Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu's address to the MPs in Rajya Sabha in the morning session when he said he was expecting "assurance of introspection and spirited efforts to prevent recurrence of such incidents" and "such assurances from all concerned would have helped me in appropriately handling the matter" but unfortunately, it was not to be".

After the repeal Bill was passed, there were two adjournments and when the House assembled at 3:09 PM, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi moved the motion to suspend the 12 MPs -- Phulo Devi Netam, Chhaya Verma, Ripun Bora, Rajamani Patel, Syed Nasir Hussain and Akhilesh Prasad Singh (Congress), Priyanka Chaturvedi and Anil Desai (Shiv Sena), Dola Sen and Shanta Chhetri (Trinamool Congress), Elamaram Kareem (CPI-M) and Binoy Viswam (CPI).

The motion, which said the House took cognisance and strongly condemns the "utter disregard to the authority of the Chair, complete abuse of rules of the House persistently thereby wilfully obstructing the business of the House through their, unprecedented acts of misconduct, contemptuous, unruly and violent behaviour and intentional attacks" on August 11, which lowered the dignity and brought disrepute to the Rajya Sabha, was adopted amid Opposition protest.

Following this, Deputy Chairman Harivansh adjourned the House till Tuesday 11 AM while senior Opposition leaders held a meeting to finalise the strategy. As more consultations were needed, it was decided to meet again on Tuesday morning.

Sources said one of the options before the Opposition is to demand the revocation of suspension on Tuesday morning.

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