Braving mosquitoes and rain, suspended Rajya Sabha MPs, including CPI’s Santosh Kumar and AAP’s Sanjay Singh, spent the night near the Gandhi statue in Parliament complex as part their 50-hour protest. The entrance to the Parliament has now been chosen as the site of the Opposition protest as it is both strategic as well as practical.
In a picture tweeted by news agency ANI, a few protesting MPs were seen sitting under mosquito nets, holding placards that read, “Stop anti people price hike”.
Delhi | Suspended MPs during their 50-hour protest in the Parliament complex
Total 27 MPs including 23 Rajya Sabha MPs and 4 Lok Sabha MPs have been suspended for “unruly behaviour” during the ongoing Monsoon session of Parliament pic.twitter.com/4oaS4q3mlK
— ANI (@ANI) July 29, 2022
The Opposition on Thursday said it chose the entrance to the Parliament as its new protest site as it wants to remind Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the promise he made when he entered the House for the first time in 2014, its leaders said Thursday.
“We want to remind Modi of the promise he made when he arrived on the first day. That is the place where he touched his forehead on the stairs. Also, since there was no tent, because of the rain, we had to move the agitation somewhere. This place was symbolic,” said a leader.
TMC’s Dola Sen and Santanu Sen were present at the site till post-midnight. With authorities not granting permission for a tent, the five MPs slept under the sky as a protest against the suspension of 24 of their fellow parliamentarians, 20 from Rajya Sabha and four Congress members from Lok Sabha.
“Due to heavy rain,50hr dharna has moved from Gandhi statue to #Parliament main entrance. 29hrs down. 21hrs to go. Oppn MPs still at Dharna demanding Govt to revoke suspension of (now) 27 MPs & discuss #PriceRise #GST,” tweeted TMC Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien.
On Thursday morning, TMC MP Mausam Noor who brought tea for the MPs said that the Opposition MPs will not apologise and the protests will continue.
The MPs were provided lunch of idli by the DMK while the TMC served them fish fry, dinner will be served by TRS, sources said. AAP has been asked to supply liquids to the MPs through the protest — juice, lassi and water have been made available in abundance to ensure that they don’t suffer from dehydration.
The TMC which served tandoori chicken for dinner on Tuesday generated a controversy with BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawala objecting to non-vegetarian food being served in front of the Gandhi statue.
“As per media reports, some suspended MPs protesting in front of the Gandhi Statue in Parliament consumed tandoori chicken. Everyone knows Gandhi ji had staunch views on the slaughter of animals. Many people are asking if this was a protest or a farce and a picnic,” Poonawala said.
TMC leader Sushmita Dev hit back at Poonawala saying that the BJP was scared of the Opposition solidarity. “Behind closed doors people and leaders of RSS eat everything behind closed doors. So, don’t make a comment on our food. “They can’t tolerate that the food is being brought not from our home, but by other MPs. They are scared of this solidarity,” Dev told reporters.
Another senior opposition leader, who did not want to be named said that the comment showed the BJP’s intolerance. “While some have roti at lunch, we have fish curry and rice or chicken. What is wrong with that? We have the right to eat what we want,” he said.
The protesting MPs also thanked the office of secretary general of the Rajya Sabha which provided two ambulances, a doctor on call, two drivers to ferry the MPs and maintenance staff to keep the protest site clean. The MPs however, brought their own linen and mattresses. O’ Brien even brought Odomos mosquito repellant creams for them.
“Small gestures went a long way and showed a camaraderie among the MPs. Each party was ready to contribute in any way they could and this spirit shows a united front,” said an opposition leader. Sources. however, say that the Congress MPs who arrived last night spent a few hours at the site.
AAP MP Singh also composed a parody of a popular yesteryear’s song which loosely translates to him imagining “a world without Modi and Shah, where people get food and children get milk.” The opposition has demanded a discussion on price rise in both Houses of Parliament.
(With PTI inputs)