Ratandeep Surjewala argued that this is an attack on democracy.

New Delhi:

 Congress leader Randeep Surjewala has criticised the BJP government for suspending 78 MPs in both Houses of Parliament, including both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members, for staging protests in demand of a statement by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on the security breach in Parliament last week.

Mr Surjewala argued that this is an attack on democracy, the Constitution of India, and the Ganga-Jamuni culture of the country. The reason behind the suspension of opposition MPs for the rest of the Winter Session was cited as “misconduct” and failure to adhere to the Chair’s directions.

Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said, “What has not happened in the history of the country in seventy-five years has happened now; ninety-two MPs have been suspended from the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha… This is not an attack on our rights; we represent the people. This is an attack on the democracy of this country. The Constitution of this country has been attacked. The Ganga-Jamuni culture of this country has been attacked. The tradition of the Constitution has been attacked in this country. The parliamentary decorum of this country has been attacked.”

In an unprecedented development, 78 MPs, including both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members, were suspended on Monday for staging protests in demand of a statement by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on the security breach in Parliament last week.

“Democracy is being crushed by the bulldozer of ego. The Constitution is being trampled by one person and one party under the guise of its majority. Democratic tradition and parliamentary decorum are being torn to pieces and thrown away somewhere. This is neither right for this country nor right for the people of this country, nor is it by the dignity of the Constitution from which this government has been elected,” said Randeep Surjewala.

The reason behind the suspension of opposition MPs for the rest of the Winter Session was cited as “misconduct” and failure to adhere to the directions of the Chair.

Fourteen MPs had been suspended last week, also for demanding a statement on the security breach. So, this takes the total number of MPs suspended in this session to 92.

When the Lok Sabha resumed proceedings in the afternoon, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi moved a motion to suspend 30 opposition MPs for “misconduct” and “utter disregard” to the chair. Three other Congress MPs’ suspensions have been referred to the Privileges Committee.

Congress MP Randeep Surjewala said that in 75 years, perhaps this is the saddest day for parliamentary democracy.

Accusing the government of acting out of “ego” and “trampling democracy,” Mr Surjewala said, “The Modi government neither has faith in democratic traditions nor in the Constitution of India. The Modi government is full of ego. He has certainly won in three states but do not forget that in one state, a Congress has been formed and in another state, a non-BJP and non-Congress government has also been formed. We bow before public opinion but public opinion cannot mean dictatorship. If they want to trample the voices of free MPs, they should hold a meeting in the BJP office itself and decide the agenda of the country.”

In Lok Sabha, 30 MPs have been suspended for the remainder of the session and three have been suspended till the privileges committee submits a report on their conduct. As for Rajya Sabha, 35 members have been suspended for the rest of session and 11 till a report by privileges panel. Earlier, Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien had been suspended after he demanded a discussion on the breach.

“We are just saying that on the anniversary of the Parliament attack, the way young people entered the Parliament. Even though he raised questions against unemployment, inflation and chaos, if instead of his symbolic protest, there had been a terrorist attack, what would have been the situation facing the country today? The government cannot protect Parliament. If the Modi government fails to protect the Parliament, then how will it protect the country? We are only raising questions from the government regarding the huge lapse in the security of Parliament, and as Rahul ji said, unemployment is now such a big problem that it is forcing the youth of the country to take such extreme steps,” said Randeep Surjewala.

Randeep Surjewala questioned the very legitimacy of the suspensions, asking, “Is it constitutionally right to throw out the entire opposition for the entire session? Is this the tradition of democracy? Is this the tradition of Parliament?”

He further drew a stark parallel between the recent security breach and the growing desperation among the youth, fueled by unemployment and economic hardship.

“Is the Modi government so incapable of tackling these problems that it resorts to suppressing legitimate questions?” questioned the Congress leader.

Highlighting the government’s alleged attempt to deflect attention from its failures, he said, “And if there is no opposition in the Parliament, then there will be no democracy and very soon a dictator will rule. That is why all those MPs were raising their voices against this dictatorship and we will raise our voices in the corridors of Parliament and on the streets of this country. I will keep raising it.”

Mr Surjewala also touched upon the contentious issue of proper debate in Parliament.

He accused the government of “not wanting to discuss the Indian Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code, or any law that holds them accountable,” claiming they preferred to rule by cheating rather than engaging in democratic discourse.

“Even if that voice remains only one, it will always carry the sorrow and suffering of 140 crore countrymen. The Bharatiya Janata Party does not want to discuss the Indian Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code and Indian Evidence Act; these three, if I call them our criminal code of conduct, are the laws that provide punishment for crimes in the country. They do not want to discuss those three laws; they want to do whatever they want by bulldozing those three laws. Don’t you want the people of the country to know what this provision is? What are the flaws in these laws? After all, the lives of the people are governed by these laws,” Mr Surjewala said.

“In this country, criminals will be punished, there will be an explanation of crime in this country, there will be the provision of punishment in this country and if the parliamentarians are not allowed to discuss it, then how will the governance of this country survive, be it democratic traditions or laws? Today, every countryman should ask this question to every friend of the BJP. This suspension has taken place in numbers and it certainly raises the question that this is unprecedented in democracy and perhaps even a threat to it. So, as a responsible opposition, will this be discussed in the next meeting? Will this remain on the agenda?” Congress spokesperson added.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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