New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed a motion suspending seven Congress members for the remaining period of the Budget session for their “gross misconduct” after they snatched papers from Speaker Om Prakash Birla’s table and for “utter disregard” for House rules.
The suspended members are Gaurav Gogoi, TN Prathapan, Dean Kuriakose, Manicka Tagore, Rajmohan Unnithan, Benny Behanan and Gurjeet Singh Aujla.
As soon as the House met at 3pm following an adjournment, Meenakshi Lekhi, who was presiding over the House, named the lawmakers. Once a member is named by the Chair, he or she cannot attend the House for that day.
She said when the House was discussing the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020, some members "forcefully" snatched and tossed papers from the Speaker podium.
"Such unfortunate incident has possibly happened for the first time in the parliamentary history...I condemn this behaviour," she said while naming the members.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi then moved a motion to suspend these members from the House for the remaining period of the Budget session. The motion was passed by a voice vote amid protests by opposition members.
"...that this house having taken serious note of gross misconduct of these members' utter disregard to the House and authority of the Chair and having been named by the Speaker resolve that these members be suspended from the service of the House from the remainder of the session," he said.
Lekhi then asked the seven members to leave Lok Sabha chambers immediately and then adjourned the House for the day.
During this period too opposition members were in the Well.
Responding to the suspension, the Congress declared it as a “dictatorial decision” by the government aimed at weakening the opposition’s voice ahead of a debate over Delhi riots.
Congress’s leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said it was a “government decision” and not one taken by the Speaker. Asserting that the Congress members had done nothing wrong, he said it was a “dictatorial decision” and one that was motivated by “revenge politics”.
“We saw revenge politics in House, orders were given by the chairperson to suspend seven Congress MPs for this session,” he said.
Chowdhury alleged that the suspension was an attempt to weaken the party in the House as the government fears a discussion on the Delhi riots in Parliament.
“Whether suspending seven MPs is right, people will decide. We will not be scared and will continue to raise the Delhi riots issue,” he said.
Gogoi, who was among the suspended MPs, said, “Suspend us for a year, but discuss the Delhi riots and heal the wounds of people.”
“What happened today is a tale of embarrassment in the history of Parliament,” Chowdhury said.
BJP welcomes suspension
Calling the conduct of a few Congress members in Lok Sabha as "unprecedented", the BJP welcomed the decision to suspend the seven "unruly" members.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said his party has requested that the Speaker set up a panel to look into the continuous "indiscipline" by Congress members.
"Snatching papers from the Speaker's table is utmost disrespect to the Chair. We condemn this," he said.
Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said the "unruly" behaviour was "unprecedented" and would have shocked the country's founding fathers. "We welcome the decision to suspend the unruly Congress members," he said.
(With inputs from PTI)