Rajat Sharma


AKB30 Forty-nine more opposition MPs were suspended from Lok Sabha for the rest of the session on Tuesday, bringing the total number of suspended MPs in both houses to 141. Among the MPs suspended on Tuesday are Dr Farooq Abdullah, Supriya Sule, Manish Tewari, Karthi Chidambaram, Shashi Tharoor, Sudip Bandopadhyay, Dimple Yadav and others. On Monday, 78 MPs were suspended from both Houses. Those suspended included Jairam Ramesh, Randeep Surjewala, K C Venugopala, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Pramod Tiwari, Ranjeet Ranjan, Ramgopal Yadav, Kanimozhi, Gaurav Gogoi, Dayanidhi Maran and Saugata Roy. The MPs were suspended for “unruly behaviour” and disrupting proceedings by shouting slogans and displaying placards. Opposition MPs have been demanding statement from Home Minister Amit Shah and a discussion on security breach that took place in Lok Sabha on December 13. The opposition is alleging that the Prime Minister and Home Minister are ignoring parliamentary traditions, giving statements outside Parliament when the Houses are in session, whereas as per tradition, government is expected to give statements inside the House first. Since the government has several key legislations pending in both Houses, and want them to be passed, the opposition is unwilling to give an easy walkover to the government. It was with this objective that opposition MPs entered the Houses carrying placards on Monday. The Lok Sabha Speaker and Rajya Sabha Chairman repeatedly warned the members not to show placards, but their appeals went unheeded. The suspension of such a large number of opposition MPs in Parliament is really unfortunate. But it is not unprecedented. Let me remind opposition leaders that when Rajiv Gandhi was Preime Minister in 1989, 63 MPs were suspended from Lok Sabha for demanding tabling of Justice Thakkar Commission report on Indira Gandhi assassination. At that time, too, I had said that the action against the opposition is unjustified, and today also, I want to say that such an action is not good for the health of our democracy. But, the government alone is not responsible for this. It will not be correct to blame the Speaker or Chairman. Opposition MPs came with placards inside the House, shouted slogans, and came into the well to disrupt proceedings. They did not heed appeals from the chair, and the government got the chance to demand their suspension. BJP spread the net and the opposition MPs got themselves entangled into the net on their own. They failed to understand that this action may cause more political damage to the opposition parties. This action may derail the larger agenda expected to be chalked out at the INDIA opposition bloc meeting in Delhi on Tuesday.


At the Ashoka Hotel in New Delhi, top leaders of nearly 28 opposition parties forming the INDIA bloc assembled for a brainstorming session on how to chalk out strategies to face Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP juggernaut in next year’s parliamentary elections. Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Mallikarjuna Kharge, Akhilesh Yadav, Lalu Prasad Yadav, his son Tejashwi, Nitish Kumar, Sharad Pawar, Uddhav Thackeray, Aditya Thackeray, M K Stalin, Mamata Banerjee, her nephew Abhishek Banerjee, Farooq Abdullah, Arvind Kejriwal, Bhagwant Mann and other leaders attended. On Monday, Mamata Banerjee made it clear that the opposition bloc would decide about its prime minister only after the Lok Sabha elections are over next year. She was optimistic about a seat-sharing arrangement between the constituent parties. There was a flurry of meetings between Udhav Thackeray, Arvind Kejriwal, M K Stalin and other top leaders. Opposition leaders agree that the alliance can defeat Modi and BJP only if it remains united. But there is no unanimity on projecting a prime ministerial candidate, or a leader who can lead the alliance. Seat-sharing arrangement will not be easy. There have been three meetings of INDIA alliance in the past but there was no unanimity on seat-sharing. At that time, Congress had won assembly polls in Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh and it had a strong claim in seat-sharing, but other parties were not ready. Now that the Congress has suffered badly in the three states of MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, its position now appears to be weak. Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal, Nitish Kumar, Sharad Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray will now insist on leaving less number of LS seats for Congress, while leaders like Akhilesh Yadav will demand more seats in states dominated by Congress. The pressure of alliance is now more on the Congress. It remains to be seen how far Congress will bow to demands from other parties. On this will depend the fate of the anti-Modi front.

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