Those who eat together, protest together. The 50-hour-long relay protest outside Parliament by various parties against the suspension of 20 Rajya Sabha members has spiced up Opposition camaraderie with each party taking it upon itself to arrange breakfast, lunch and dinner with its own regional twist.
The 20 MPs, suspended over Monday and Tuesday, include seven from the Trinamool Congress, six from the DMK, three from the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), two from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and one each from the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Dinner on Day 1 was served by the TMC, with the menu and venue giving off a whiff of controversy.
“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,” said BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawala.
Counting Poonawala, TMC leader Sushmita Beb said: “They can’t tolerate that the food is being brought not from our home, but by other MPs. They are scared of this solidarity.”
Another Opposition leader, who did not wish to be named, chimed in. “We have the right to eat what we want. This (Poonawala’s) is a needless comment.”
Meanwhile, the DMK brought the southern flavour with idli and sambar and the AAP, which usually shies away from public display of Opposition unity, served lassi and juice. Sources say the Congress barely contributed to the potluck and only two leaders from the party briefly joined the Opposition camp.
The MPs on protest also had a word of appreciation for the Parliament Secretariat. “They provided ambulances and doctors on standby. This was a nice gesture,” a lawmaker told News18.
The only complaint the MPs on protest have is that Sharad Pawar’s NCP did not join in.
The concept of Opposition unity has had several false starts so far. The AAP has usually stayed away and the TMC has been annoyed with Congress playing big brother. But in rare gesture, the opposition bloc signed a memorandum condemning “ED harassment” on a day Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was to be questioned in the National Herald case.
Will the feast continue till 2024 or will someone leave the table before dessert? Time will tell. For the next few days, it’s all about fish fry, dal and more idlis.