Opposition Fights Back Citing Suspension As Flawed And Violating The Rules

New Delhi: The opposition on Tuesday termed the order to suspend 12 Rajya Sabha MPs for an incident that happened in the monsoon session of Parliament in August as flawed and violative of the rules, even as it rubbished the argument of the Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu that the Upper chamber was a “continuous house” where punitive action was not restricted by the limitation of individual sessions. CPM MP Elamaram Kareem told media that the 12 MPs are seeking legal counsel over their suspension.

Terming the suspension as “unprecedented excessive action” in a tersely-worded letter, leader of opposition Mallikarjun Kharge appeared to refer to the discussion in the RS on Tuesday morning, in which Naidu had said that the opposition was wrong to claim that action could not be taken in the winter session on an issue pertaining to the monsoon session. He has argued that unlike Lok Sabha (which is renewed after every general elections), the Upper House was a “continuous house”.

Kharge wrote that while the council of states is a “continuous house” as per Article 83 of the Constitution, its functioning is based on each session being summoned by the President under Article 85(1). He argued that after every session, the House is adjourned sine die and prorogued, and the monsoon session was prorogued by the President on August 31. “If the House had only been adjourned and then re-convened without any prorogation, the argument of continuity would merit any justification,” Kharge said.

Besides, Kharge told Naidu that the government motion seeking suspension constituted three violations of the “rules of procedure and conduct of business”.

He argued that the motion could not be considered passed by the House since the entire opposition was opposed to it, and did not constitute consensus of the House. He said the members were denied an opportunity to present their cases while one suspended MP was never referred to in the bulletin on August 11.

Besides, Kharge said the suspension had to be preceded by the naming of the members.
The letter questioning the chair as well as the government’s arguments for suspension marked an escalation of the confrontation. The opposition has decided to meet again on Wednesday morning to decide on the future course.

Suspended MPs, along with other opposition leaders will also regroup after the dharna on Wednesday to take stock of the day’s developments and decide the future course of action. Trinamool Congress, which has been protesting separately, will also join the opposition dharna tomorrow (Wednesday).

While some opposition MPs had on Monday raised the possibility of the boycott of entire winter session if the suspension was not reversed, the anti-BJP bloc appeared to relent on Tuesday. Many felt it will not send the right message. The two meetings in Kharge’s office, one before the start of the proceedings and another after the walk out, saw some parties speak against full boycott and advocated that they continue to raise the issue in the house.

The morning meeting was also attended by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who is a Lok Sabha member. A surprise addition to the strategy session was Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) through senior MP Keshav Rao, who also extended support to opposition protests inside and outside Parliament.

The opposition bloc struck a strident “no apology” stance. Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “Apology for what? For raising people’s concern in Parliament? Not at all!”

However, the joint opposition met chairman Naidu and also deputy chairperson Harivansh. A leader said that compromise was still not ruled out.
(With inputs from agencies)