Uproar over Maha; LS Speaker orders removal of Cong MPs

Uproar over Maha; LS Speaker orders removal of Cong MPs

Speaker Om Birla conducts proceedings in the Lok Sabha during the Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Monday, Nov. 25, 2019. (LSTV/PTI Photo)

Lok Sabha witnessed high drama on Monday, with Speaker Om Birla ordering marshals to remove two of the Congress MPs who protested against what they called “murder of democracy” in Maharashtra, and the opposition party alleging that two of its women members were manhandled.

The Congress, the Shiv Sena and other opposition parties stalled proceedings in both Houses of Parliament, protesting against the way Devendra Fadnavis of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was sworn in as Chief Minister of Maharashtra for a second term early in the morning on Saturday, along with Ajit Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) as the Deputy Chief Minister.

The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were adjourned repeatedly as opposition parties continued to protest against the BJP-led Government at the Centre.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi led the party MPs in both the Houses to stage a protest demonstration outside Parliament Building.

As soon as the Lok Sabha assembled for the day at 11:00 a.m., the MPs of the Congress, the Shiv Sena and other opposition parties raised slogans “Samvidhan Ki Hatya Bandh Karo, Bandh Karo” (Stop Murdering Constitution). Even as the Speaker started the proceedings of the Question Hour, some of the opposition MPs trooped into the well of the House, holding placards and banners and raising slogans.

Rahul Gandhi, himself, led the Congress MPs to protest “murder of democracy” in Maharashtra.

“I wanted to ask a question in the House, but it does not make any sense to ask a question right now as democracy has been murdered in Maharashtra,” Congress MP from Wayanad in Kerala said when Speaker gave him an opportunity to ask a supplementary question even as other members of the opposition continued to raise slogans.

The Speaker asked the agitating MPs to return to their seats, but they continued to protest from the well of the House. Birla specifically warned Hibi Eden and T N Prathapan, both Congress MPs from Kerala, as they were waving a banner with “Stop Murder of Democracy” written on it. “These two members (Eden and Prathapan) be removed from the House in accordance with Rule 373 (of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha),” ordered the Speaker.

As the marshals moved to take away the banner from Eden and Prathapan and sought to remove them from the House, the two MPs along with others sought to resist them. With the Opposition MPs seen jostling with the marshals, the Speaker adjourned the House till 12:00 noon.

“Security personnel manhandled our women parliamentarians. We have never experienced this inside Parliament. We will be waiting to see what action is been taken against responsible people,” Adhir Chowdhury, leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, told reporters. Congress MPs from Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Ramya Haridas and Jothimani, told journalists that they had lodged complaint with the Speaker as they had been manhandled.

This was the first time in the 17th Lok Sabha with Birla at the chair that the House was adjourned.

“I am hurt by whatever happened in the House today. Such behaviour is unacceptable and would not be tolerated,” Lok Sabha Speaker later told journalists.

The House reassembled at 12:00 noon but was adjourned again till 2.pm It was then adjourned for the day.