Congress slams suspension of its 7 MPs as ‘dictatorial’, calls it attempt to weaken Opposition voice

The Congress on Thursday alleged that the suspension of its seven members from Lok Sabha was a “dictatorial decision” by the government aimed at weakening the Opposition’s demand for a debate on Delhi riots in Parliament.
Lok Sabha suspended seven Congress members for the remaining period of the Budget Session for “gross misconduct” and “utter disregard” for House rules after they snatched papers from the Speaker’s table.
The Congress MPs suspended were Gaurav Gogoi, T N Prathapan, Dean Kuriakose, Manickam Tagore, Rajmohan Unnithan, Benny Behanan and Gurjeet Singh Aujla.
Reacting to the development, Congress’s leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said it was a “government decision” and not one taken by the Speaker.
“We got to see spirit of revenge in the House. Order was given to suspend seven of our MPs for the session by a chairperson, not the Speaker,” he said.
“The aim is that we become weak in the discussion on Delhi riots. The government is scared to discuss the Delhi riots. This is a dictatorial decision of the government,” he said.
He said the people will decide whether suspending seven members is right or not.
“We, Congress workers, are not afraid, (and) if you think by suspending our seven MPs, we will not demand a discussion about the Delhi riots, it will not happen,” Chowdhury said.
Describing the suspension as a “tale of embarrassment for parliamentary democracy”, he said the Opposition will not be weakened in its resolve and will continue to seek immediate discussion on Delhi riots.
Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said it was a “black day” in the functioning of Parliament.
“This reflects utter dictatorship of the government as also complete failure of the Speaker in protecting the rights of the Members of Parliament in holding the government accountable to the law of this country as also to the Parliament,” he said.
“What were these MPs doing? They were only demanding a discussion on Delhi riots. They were questioning the role of the Home Minister or a deliberate conspiracy which is behind the Delhi riots,” he said.
Surjewala asked why can’t the government and the prime minister answer the questions raised by the Opposition over the Delhi riots.
“Modi ji, if your people can even get away with murder, but if we seek accountability we will be thrown out from remainder of the session of the Parliament,” he said.
Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP P Chidambaram said MPs sometimes lose their cool when there is grave provocation and in such cases, the House must consider both the provocation and the reaction.
“Suspending MPs for the rest of the current session is excessive and unacceptable,” he said.
“Presumably, the Speaker is not aware of the role played by the BJP while sitting in the Opposition during 2004-2014,” the former finance minister said.
Chowdhury said people want a debate on Delhi riots and the Congress’s struggle will continue against the government.
“We will continue to expose the failures of this government…We cannot be stopped through intimidation,” he said.
Asked if the Congress will take up the matter with the Speaker, Chowdhury said, “We have a very cordial relation with Speaker but we cannot let ourselves to be beggars. We have not committed any wrong by demanding the discussion on a very sensitive issue in our country.” “Delhi riot is a sensitive issue of our country. We have the right, it is our privilege to raise this issue inside the Parliament,” he said.
If this government does not want to discuss the legitimate issues, certainly the government will be recognised as an authoritarian regime, Chowdhury 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.
As soon as the House reassembled at 3 pm following an adjournment, Meenakshi Lekhi, who was presiding the House, named the seven Congress MPs.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi then moved a motion to suspend the 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.