Rajya Sabha on Tuesday saw uproar by the Opposition after the suspension of its 19 members for the entire week for repeatedly disrupting proceedings, with the penalised MPs refusing to leave the House.
There were four adjournments till 3:40 pm as the Opposition refused to relent, and later the House was adjourned for the day, without transacting much business.
The opposition MPs, who have been stalling the proceedings since the start of the Monsoon session on July 18 to press for immediate discussion on price rise and the levy of the GST on daily essentials, were suspended as they did not heed Deputy Chairman Harvansh’s repeated pleas to leave the well of the House and go back to their seats.
Four Congress MPs – Manickam Tagore, TN Prathapan, Jothimani and Ramya Haridas – had been suspended on Monday for disrupting proceedings, deepening the standoff between the Opposition and the government, which is maintaining that it is ready to hold the discussion once Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recovers from COVID-19.
On Tuesday, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V Muraleedharan moved a motion to suspend 10 MPs from the sitting of the House for the remainder of the week for their “misconduct” by showing “utter disregard to the House and authority of the chair”.
But when Harivansh put the motion to vote, he read out the names of 19 members.
The motion was carried by a voice vote. When some opposition MPs demanded a division of votes, the chair said he would do so if the members returned to their seats and the House was brought to order.
With the MPs refusing to budge, he said it seems they are not interested in the division and declared that the motion has been adopted.
The suspended MPs refused to leave, squatting on the floor of the House, leading to three adjournments — first for 15 minutes by Harivansh, then for an hour and finally, for the day by Bhubaneswar Kalita, who was in the chair.
While seven of the suspended MPs belonged to the Trinamool Congress (TMC), six were from the DMK, three from the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), two from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and one from the Communist Party of India (CPI).
Sushmita Dev, Mausam Noor, Shanta Chhetri, Dola Sen, Santanu Sen, Abir Ranjan Biswas and Nadimul Haque of the TMC were suspended.
DMK’s M Mohamed Abdulla, Kanimozhi NVN Somu, M Shanmugam, S Kalyanasundaram, R Girirajan and N R Elango were also suspended.
B Lingaiah Yadav, Ravichandra Vaddiraju and Damodar Rao Divakonda (TRS), V Sivadasan and A A Rahim (CPI-M) and Santhosh Kumar (CPI) were the other MPs who were suspended.
Earlier in the day, while the proceedings were adjourned during the Zero Hour without a single issue being taken up, Harivansh conducted the Question Hour in the midst of slogan-shouting by the opposition MPs from the Well.
This is the highest number of MPs suspended in one go. Earlier, 12 opposition members were suspended in November last year, as some of them had climbed on the table, flung papers and damaged property.
As the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha resumed after the suspension of nineteen MPs, opposition members continued shouting slogans from the well ignoring the pleas of Bhubaneswar Kalita, who was in the chair.
Kalita took the names of all nineteen suspended members and asked them again to go out of the House and others to return to their respective seats.
“I request the suspended members to withdraw from the House, and whose names are not announced they should go to their seats and allow the house to function,” he said.
Kalita said that rules were followed in the suspension of the members.
However, the members, who had trooped to the well of the House, kept shouting slogans.