Opposition parties to boycott Parliament; monsoon session may end on Wed

Youth Congress activists protest against the passage of the farm Bills, in New Delhi on Tuesday | Photo: PTI
Various Opposition parties, including the Congress, on Tuesday boycotted Lok Sabha in solidarity with the eight Rajya Sabha members who were suspended for unruly behaviour.

Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said all opposition parties are boycotting Parliament in solidarity with the Rajya Sabha members who were suspended on Monday. “You have compelled us to do so,” he said.

Tea time

The suspended parliamentarians, who spent the night on the lawns near Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in what several old-timers said was the first such, got a surprise visitor in the morning — Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh who came with tea and snacks.

Till late night, the protesting MPs raised slogans and sang songs while a host of Opposition leaders such as National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah, Samajwadi Party’s Jaya Bachchan and Congress’ Ahmed Patel, Digvijaya Singh and Shashi Tharoor visited them to express their support.

But their morning visitor did not receive the same enthusiastic response, said some of the protesting MPs. The Rajya Sabha deputy chairman, the protesters said, came with a posse of news cameras and was told by a senior MP to visit without the cameras and sit with them. “Another senior MP also told him that while bringing tea was a nice gesture, he was still in the wrong in what he did. He was told he was the one who broke the rules,” a protesting MP told PTI.

A motion for the suspension of the eight — Rajeev Satav, Syed Naseer Hussain and Ripun Bora (Congress), Dola Sen and Derek O'Brien (TMC), KK Ragesh and Elamaram Kareem (CPM) and Sanjay Singh (AAP) — was moved by the government on Monday and approved by a voice vote in the House. They were suspended for their “misbehaviour” with Harivansh during the passage of the farm Bills on Sunday.

‘Unacceptable’

Meanwhile, Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday lauded Harivansh for showing restraint when opposition members were agitating in the House and disapproved of the conduct of the protesting leaders, saying the “my way or the highway” approach was unacceptable.

He also appealed to the Opposition members to reconsider their decision to boycott proceedings and asked them to participate in the discussions in the House instead.

About the suspension of members, the Chairman said he is not happy about it “as they are our members and our countrymen”, but added this is not the first time it has happened. “The action is on their conduct, not the person. Try to understand that. We don't have anything against any member as far as I am concerned.”

On him rejecting a notice for a no-confidence motion against Harivansh, Naidu said it should have been in the form of a resolution and reiterated a 14-day notice was not given.

The Congress said its boycott of the Rajya Sabha will not end until the government brings another Bill, making it illegal for private players to buy food grains from farmers below the MSP, ensuring state agencies comply with the MSP and the procurement price is fixed according to the M S Swaminathan panel’s recommendations.

Criticism

Criticism of Harivansh’s handling of the House continued with NCP Chief Sharad Pawar saying he had never seen presiding officers behave in such a manner with House members. Talking to reporters, he also objected to the manner in which farm Bills were passed in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday amid Opposition protests. “It was expected from the deputy chairman to at least listen to rules which the members were referring to,” he said.

End of session

The Lok Sabha is likely to be adjourned sine die on Wednesday, eight days ahead of the scheduled end of the Monsoon Session, amid concerns of spread of coronavirus among MPs, sources said. The House, which will meet at 3 pm on Wednesday, is likely to be adjourned sine die around 5 pm after taking up an extended Zero Hour, the sources said.




Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel