Eight opposition lawmakers in the Rajya Sabha, including Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brien, were on Monday suspended for a week for “unruly behavior” that took place as the House passed two controversial agriculture sector related bills on Sunday.
The government moved a motion for their suspension for “bringing disrepute” to the House for the rest of the monsoon session of Parliament.The motion was approved by the House through a voice vote amid protests from opposition leaders. TMC’s Dola Sen, Sanjay Singh of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Congress leaders Rajeev Satav, Ripun Bora and Syed Nasir Hussain and KK Ragesh and Elamaram Kareem of the CPI(M) were among those who were suspended.
The Rajya Sabha on Sunday passed the two contentious farm bills by voice vote as the House witnessed chaotic scenes after some slogan-shouting opposition members lead by the Trinamool Congress climbed on to the chairperson’s podium demanding a discussion.
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, was passed by the upper house. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, part of the broader farm liberalisation plan, could not be taken up.
Here are 10 points as the Upper House was adjourned for the day:
* The Rajya Sabha was adjourned till Tuesday after the suspended members refused to leave the House. The chair insisted that business could be taken up only after the 8 members suspended for a week under Rule 256(2) leave the House. It was adjourned several times before as well amid continuous protest by opposition members over the suspension of the eight MPs.
* During the third time, the proceedings of the Upper House was adjourned by deputy chairman Harivansh till 11:07am. Bhubaneshwar Kalita was in the chair during the resumption of proceedings amid the sloganeering by opposition MPs. Kalita asked suspended members to leave the House as Opposition leaders continued sloganeering. “LoP (Leader of the Opposition) will speak but suspended members should be out of this House. House has to be in order. Also, request MPs to follow COVID protocol,” Kalita said.
* Earlier, the House was adjourned till 10:36am and by chairman M Venkaiah Naidu till 10:30am after announcing the one-week suspensions unruly behaviour with the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman on Sunday. Naidu had also rejected the no-confidence motion moved by the Opposition against Deputy Chairman Harivansh saying that it is “not admissible under the rules”.
* On Sunday, as many as 100 members from 12 opposition parties had submitted a no-confidence motion against Harivansh after he overruled opposition pleas for postponing agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar’s reply to the debate on the two farm bills till Monday since the sitting time scheduled of the House was over.
* Chief minister of West Bengal and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee tweeted on Monday that the suspension of eight Rajya Sabha members reflects the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government’s “autocratic mindset”. “Suspension of the 8 MPs who fought to protect farmers interests is unfortunate & reflective of this autocratic Govt’s mindset that doesn’t respect democratic norms & principles. We won’t bow down & we’ll fight this fascist Govt in Parliament & on the streets,” Banerjee tweeted.
* Sukhendu Sekhar Ray, the Trinamool’s chief whip of Trinamool Congress in the Upper House, said the role of the chair in the suspension of the opposition MPs was “ex facie partisan, unprecedented and unlawful”.
* “Amendments of several members for referring the matter to Select Committee were not taken up for disposal before passing of the bill by so-called voice vote. The role of the Chair in this context was ex facie partisan, unprecedented and unlawful. Without considering this illegality committed yesterday giving birth to strong protests from the Opposition, their voices have further been throttled when some of them have been suspended today for the remaining period of the current session,” Ray said in a statement.
* “This way the Upper House is not run. If Constitutional Authorities, in this case, the Deputy Chairman of the Upper House of the Parliament, act as per their whims and fancies in blatant violation of rules and in detriment to the laid down procedures of the parliamentary democratic system, the country is destined to fall prey to majoritarianism, if not fascism,” he added. Ray said such developments must be condemned by all.
* “Such developments that took place within the temple of democracy in India must be condemned by all sections of the people as the Parliament like all other constitutional institutions of the country belong to them only as we are a people’s democracy,” he said.
* Rajya Sabha witnessed unruly scenes on Sunday as opposition members stormed the well and reached the deputy chairman’s seat to protest against the farm bills debated and passed by the Upper House through voice vote.
(With agency inputs)