New Delhi, Aug 4: Relations between the government and the opposition nosedived on Monday escalating confrontation further as 25 of 44 Congress MPs were suspended from Lok Sabha for five days for unruly behaviour.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said the suspension of MPs was the saddest day in Indian democracy, adding that the government wants to treat opposition parties like slaves.
Azad said: “The ruling party has forgotten that they are living in democracy and in a democracy the role of opposition is very crucial. And in democracy, the basic thing is opposition and ruling party’s relation has to be on the basis of give and take.”
Azad further said: “This government does not believe in give and take, this government wants to get the work done from opposition parties in Parliament on their terms and conditions.”
The dramatic action by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan was denounced as a “black day for India and democracy” by agitated Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, whose party warned that the development would find its echo in the Rajya Sabha tomorrow which is already in turmoil.
Congress’ remaining Lok Sabha members, including Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, will boycott the House tomorrow in protest against the suspension. Party MPs will stage a dharna in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Parliament House.
The cracking down on Congress members is the first such disciplinary action in the current Lok Sabha at a time when the monsoon session so far has been a washout due to the relentless agitation by the Congress members over Lalit Modi and Vyapam issues.
Though the BJP and ministers strongly defended the Speaker’s action, there were indications that the government could move for softening the punishment by urging the Speaker to reconsider her decision in an attempt to restore order.
This is not the first time members en masse have been suspended. In March 1989, 58 opposition members were suspended following protests on the floor. Later five more were added.
There have been suspensions on at least three occasions in the last three years of up to 16 members in one go.
The Speaker took the decision holding the members guilty of “persistently, wilfully obstructing” the House by displaying placards and shouting slogans.
The action came close on the heels of the all-party meeting convened by the government which failed to break the impasse.
(With Agency Inputs)