Rajya Sabha suspends eight Dharnabaaz MPs, Opposition remains defiant

The row over members’ misconduct in Rajya Sabha during the passage of farm Bills on Sunday is far from over.

Rajya Sabha has gone cracking the whip and on Monday suspended eight unruly opposition members including floor leader of Trinamool Congress – Derek O’ Brien.

The Trinamool Congress leadership and party supremo Mamata Banerjee herself remained defiant for the conduct of opposition members in the Rajya Sabha wherein lawmaker Derek O’ Brien tore up the Rule Book and insulted the chair on Sunday during the passage of farm Bills.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also tweeted from abroad: “Muting Of Democratic India’ continues: by initially silencing and later, suspending MPs in the Parliament & turning a blind eye to farmers’ concerns on the black agriculture laws. This ‘omniscient’ Govt’s endless arrogance has brought economic disaster for the entire country.”

Some MPs of Opposition parties also held protest in front of Gandhi statue in Parliament premises. “I condemn this kind of expulsion of the members of Rajya Sabha in such a brazen and undemocratic manner. We will protest to restore the status quo ante of our members in Rajya Sabha,” Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said.

The House of Elders on Monday announced suspension of eight opposition members including Derek O’ Brien and Dola Sen of Trinamool Congress.

Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu also rejected a notice for no confidence motion against deputy chairman Harivansh on the grounds that proper procedures were not followed while the farm Bills were passed.

“Suspension of the 8 MPs who fought to protect farmers interests is unfortunate and reflective of this autocratic Govt’s mindset that doesn’t respect democratic norms and principles. We won’t bow down and we’ll fight this fascist Govt in Parliament and on the streets,” tweeted Ms Banerjee.

She, however, chose to skirt any reference to the conduct of her unruly MPs. The 8 suspended Opposition members are Derek O Brien and Dola Sen (Trinamool), Rajiv Satav, Syed Naseer Hussain and Ripun Bora (Congress), K K Ragesh and Elamaram Karim (CPI-M) and Aam Aadmi Party’s Sanjay Singh.

Trinamool MP in Rajya Sabha, Sekhendu Shekhar Roy, also defended the conduct of Trinamool members and other opposition lawmakers.

The suspended members, however, declined to move out of the House and continued to create commotion. AAP member Sanjay Singh even sat on Dharna.

Bhubaneswar Kalia, who was on the chair, repeatedly urged the suspended members to leave the House.

“Suspended members should leave the House….so that the Leader of the Opposition (Ghulam Nabi Azad) can make his points as per the rules. This has happened before, it is not something unprecedented,” Kalita said.

The House was later adjourned for the day. Sukhendu Shekhar Roy said the members have the right to demand to send any Bill to a select committee but the farm Bills were on Sunday pushed in an “illegal manner” by passed.

“Today’s suspension of Trinamool members was also illegal,” he told reporters.

The gory episode in the Rajya Sabha was triggered by misconduct of Trinamool members and other Opposition MPs on Sunday when Derek O’ Brien tore up the Rule Book and hurled it towards the chair.

Harivansh Narayan Singh, Deputy Chairman of the House, was on the chair.

The Rajya Sabha wrote itself into history on Sunday, September 20 while passing the contentious draft laws but not
before the conduct of some members put the House of Elders into shame. The government has hailed the farm Bills as revolutionary and part of reform strategies to help farmers help enable sell their produces directly in the open market anywhere.

On September 17 – incidentally on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday – Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal staged a walkout in Lok Sabha and quit the ministry. The following day, of course, the Prime Minister strongly defended government’s measures and said “These Bills are like Raksha Kawach (protective shields)….These reforms will give farmers a new
freedom to sell their produce and also give them a series of new ‘vikalps’ alternatives”.

The move to ensure direct sale of agricultural produces has left middlemen and commission agents irked.

BJP MP Swapan Dasgupta in a tweet said: “While it is painful to deny any MP the right to participate in the proceedings of Parliament, it is undeniable that Sunday’s disruption of proceedings in Rajya Sabha crossed all bounds. I think apologies by the suspended MPs may be a first step in getting back to normalcy.”

About the Author:

Nirendra Dev is senior Journalist. He is a longtime northeast watcher and author of books including ‘The Talking Guns: North East India’ and ‘Modi to Moditva: An Uncensored Truth’.