‘Suspending 146 MPs means suspending 70% of population,’ Rahul Gandhi at INDIA bloc protest

Leaders of INDIA bloc are holding nationwide protests against never-before-seen suspension of 146 Opposition MPs from Parliament.

BySouth First Desk

Published Dec 22, 2023 | 3:06 PMUpdatedDec 22, 2023 | 3:06 PM

INDIA bloc protest

The Opposition INDIA bloc is holding a nationwide protest, on Friday, 22 December, against the suspension of 143 MPs from Parliament.

Addressing a press conference after the INDIA bloc meeting, on Tuesday, 19 December, AICC President Mallikarjun Kharge said, “If we have to save the democracy we will have to fight together and all of us are ready for this fight.”

True to his words, all parties of the INDIA bloc came together to stage protests at the national and state level.

Adequate security arrangements were made near the Parliament and Jantar Mantar on Friday in view of the ongoing protest by the INDIA bloc against the suspension of MPs, an official said.

Several security personnel have been deployed and barricades were also placed. A senior police officer said that adequate arrangements have been made and security personnel have been deployed for the smooth movement of traffic in the area.

A total of 146 members were suspended from the Lok Sabha as well as the Rajya Sabha since 14 December — this session alone.

On Friday, the Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Rahul Gandhi, along with NCP MP Sharad Pawar, and CPI(M) MP Sitaram Yechury participated in the protest at the Jantar Mantar in Delhi.

Also Read: Opposition MPs protest against suspension of MPs

‘70% of the country suspended’

AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge criticised Vice-President Dhankhar for claiming that he was mocked based on his caste. The Congress leader said, “When being in a position of power, you claim that you are discriminated against based on caste, what should I as someone coming from a Dalit community say?”

He further added, “Three criminal laws passed will trouble the people, if the law is for the good of people, we will support it, but they are not.”

On the suspension, he said, the BJP cannot suppress them, “We are like seeds, if you bury us, we will rise again.”

He added, “We have got freedom of speech in the Constitution. This freedom was given to us by Mahatma Gandhi ji, Jawahar Lal Nehru ji and Dr. Ambedkar ji.”

Calling for a unified fight, Kharge said, “Fight for what’s right.”

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi speaking at the protest said, the first question is, “How did the intruders enter the parliament?”

He added, “If they were able to bring gas canisters, they could even bring something else.”

He further added the protest was done due to unemployment. “There is maximum unemployment in the country.”

‘India’s democracy is in danger’

Questioning the media, Rahul Gandhi asked, “Media is busy criticising Rahul Gandhi, they don’t question the government either on the security breach, or unemployment.”

He added: “Suspending the 146 MPs means 70 percent of the population is suspended, it means shutting their voices.”

CWC member Randeep Singh Surjewala questioned, “If people are not allowed to raise their voice in the Parliament of the country then what is the need of the Parliament? Modi government is strangulating the Constitution of the country.”

He added: “Today India’s democracy is in danger. In such a situation, the INDIA bloc will not remain silent, we will fight for the people of the country till our last breath.”

PARLIAMENT SUSPENSIONS: When posturing becomes all-pervasive

‘BJP Mukt Bharat’

Speaking about the protest, the Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram, Shashi Tharoor said, “In the history of democracy in the world, 146 MPs have never been suspended.”

He further added, “The protest is to inform people about the state of democracy, about the danger that democracy is in, to tell people that whatever is happening is wrong for the future of the country.”

Further criticising the passing of the Bills in Parliament in the absence of Opposition, the MP said, “It is not right to pass such important Bills without discussion.”

TMC MP Mausam Noor speaking at the protest said, the BJP is trying to make the country democracy-mukt, while the INDIA bloc will make the country BJP Mukt.

‘Democracy being murdered in daylight’

Speaking at the protest, CPI (M) leader Dipankar Bhattacharjee, said, “As decided on 19 December, we are protesting not only in Delhi, but in various cities, and even at the Panchayat level, people are protesting.”

He further said, “From the expulsion of Mahua Moitra, December has seen an attack on the democracy and Constitution.”

“From one Mahua Moitra, today 146 MPs have been suspended, this shows the government doesn’t want any Opposition,” he added.

Further criticising the government, the CPI (M) leader said, “After the 13 December attack, the Union home minister had to answer in the parliament, but they didn’t. May it be Manipur, or the parliament, the government has made it a habit to be not answerable.”

“This BJP government has done the maximum damage to democracy,” he added.

CPI(M) leader D Raja called for a combined fight to end the fascist rule of BJP and RSS.

Sitaram Yechury said that democracy is being murdered in broad daylight. He further said, “If BJP comes to power again they might even remove the Parliament completely.”

He ended his speech by giving the protest call of “Judega Bharat, Jeethega India.”

Related: Bills passed while keeping 143 Opposition MPs under suspension

Draconian laws enacted

DMK leader Tiruchi Siva speaking at the protest said he is speaking as the representative of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin.

Speaking of the attack on federalism, he said, “The BJP is using governors to obstruct the state governments.”

“Democracy is in peril, never before were 146 MPs suspended. Just because we demanded an answer from the home minister, we were suspended. They enacted draconian laws in our absence.”

He further called to save democracy.

NCP leader Sharad Pawar said, the BJP is trying to silence the Opposition by suspending MPs, “I just want to say that, we, the people sitting on the stage here are ready to pay whatever price it takes to save democracy.”

Samajwadi Party MP ST Hassan said the Opposition was bulldozed in the Parliament, he said the need to fight against this danger is much more today.

RJD leader Manoj Jha said the government wants an opposition-free country, “They want protest free road, opposition free game, and question free media.”

Protests in Telangana, Karnataka

In Karnataka, the ruling state Congress protested against the suspension of MPs at Freedom Park, in Bengaluru.

Heading the Karnataka Congress party members’ protest in Bengaluru against the suspension of 146 MLAs from the Parliament, Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar said “We as an Opposition had only requested for a discussion about the Parliamentary security breach incident to the Union Home Minister.”

He added, “For that, all of the Opposition leaders— around 146 of them — were thrown out of the Parliament. This is an undemocratic move and has not happened anywhere in the history. It is a grave incident that occurred against the constitution.”

“The matter of fact that they won elections in three States does not give them a superior status at the Centre. It is all decided unanimously by individual elected representatives about who is going to come in Delhi. We will continue with our fight,” DK Shivakumar stated.

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah opined that the suspension of a large number of MPs in the Parliament is the murder of democracy.

The Chief Minister was responding to the media’s question in Mysuru and said that the view of the Opposition should be heard in a democracy.

“MPs come to Lok Sabha or Legislative Assembly by the mandate given by the people. Nobody including the Speaker can take away their rights. Never in the history of the Lok Sabha have such a large number of MPs were suspended. This is murder of democracy. The central government is neither respecting the democracy nor the sentiments of the people. People will take the right decision during Lok Sabha elections,” he said.

Telangana Deputy Chief Minister Bhatti Vikramarka, ministers and key leaders of the Congress party attended the dharna held at Indira Park Dharna Chowk, in Hyderabad to protest against the undemocratic suspension of the INDIA bloc MPs in Parliament by the BJP government at the Centre.

Other states

Bihar’s ruling coalition, known as “Mahagathbandhan” in common parlance, comprises six of the INDIA bloc’s constituents, namely Congress, RJD, JD(U), CPI(ML) Liberation, CPI and CPI(M).

In the state capital, leaders of the “Mahagathbandhan”, including state Congress president Akhilesh Prasad Singh and RJD national vice president Uday Narayan Chaudhary, hit the streets. Joined by CPI(ML)-L MLA Sandeep Saurav, they took out a procession from the Income Tax office roundabout to the district collectorate, about a kilometre away.

Supporters followed carrying respective party flags as well as placards and banners charging the Narendra Modi government with “murder” of democracy by the “dictatorial” move of suspending close to 150 members of both Houses of Parliament.

Similar protests were reported from places like Muzaffarpur and Buxar where local MLAs and leaders led protests at district headquarters.

Aggressive slogans, vowing to dislodge the BJP-led NDA from power at the Centre, were raised at all places. However, no untoward incident was reported from anywhere.

The opposition parties in Goa on Friday protested against the suspension of more than 140 MPs from both houses of Parliament during the winter session, accusing the BJP of behaving like a dictator. The protest was held at Azad Maidan in Panaji.

Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president Amit Patkar, Leader of Opposition Yuri Alemao, AAP Goa chief Amit Palekar, NCP Goa chief Jose Philip D’Souza, Shiv Sena Goa chief Jitesh Kamat and TMC leader Tanoj Adwalkar participated in the protest.

Congress MLAs Carlos Alvares Ferreira and Altone D’Costa were also present for the protest.

Addressing those who took part in the protest, Patkar said that the MPs were suspended “despite making the right demand”.

After two men jumped in the Lok Sabha chamber on December 13 and released smoke from canisters, the opposition has been disrupting House proceedings demanding a statement from Home Minister Amit Shah on the security breach.

(With PTI inputs)