New Delhi, Parliament : Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has suspended 25 members of the Congress for five days for disrupting smooth functioning of the house.
Taking the growing protest against her today Sushma Swaraj today stood to speak in the Rajya Sabha,
over the allegations that she helped former Indian Premier League chief Lalit Modi obtain a UK visa.
“I never requested the British government to issue a visa to Lalit Modi,” said Swaraj.
This 25 Congress members were carrying placards and shouting slogans in the Well
while pressing for resignation of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje over Lalit Modi row
and Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over Vyapam scam.
While taking the tough action under Rule 374(A), she said the members were being suspended for "persistently, wilfully obstructing the House".
She ruled that the 'named' members will not attend five sittings of the House. Congress has 44 members in all.
Mahajan adjourned the House immediately after. However, a number of the Congress members staged a sit-in in the House.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi also did not leave the House for quite some time
and were seen holding discussions with leaders of some other opposition parties.
Her action came after several warnings and despite pleas by Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandhyopadhyay
and CPI(M) leader P Karunakaran that it would aggravate the situation.
Automatic Suspension of a member
374A. (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in rules 373 and 374, in the event of grave disorder occasioned by a member coming into the well
of the House or abusing the Rules of the House persistently and wilfully obstructing its business by shouting slogans or otherwise,
such member shall, on being named by the Speaker, stand automatically suspended from the service of the House for five consecutive sittings
or the remainder of the session, whichever is less:
Provided that the House may, at any time, on a motion being made, resolve that such suspension be terminated.
(2) On the Speaker announcing the suspension under this rule, the member shall forthwith withdraw from the precincts of the House.
ADJOURNMENT OF HOUSE OR SUSPENSION OF SITTING DUE TO GRAVE DISORDER
The move came after the government approached the Speaker slamming the Opposition for obstructing the House for the past several days.
Such a major action is the first in the current Lok Sabha.
Earlier during the day, an all-party meeting called by the Narendra Modi government failed to break the parliamentary logjam,
with the Congress and the NDA government reiterating their stated positions on resignations over Lalit Modi and Vyapam issues.
While the Congress demanded the resignations of Sushma Swaraj and chief ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the government ruled out any resignations.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley said it was clear from the all-party meeting that most political parties want the stalemate to be resolved.
The monsoon session, which began on July 21, has been washed out till date over the opposition demand for the resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj
and the chief ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh over the former IPL chief Lalit Modi and Vyapam issues.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said the all-party meeting was convened to break the logjam,
but the Congress continued to stick to its demand for the resignations.
"The Congress stuck to its demand of 'first resignations and then only the house will run'. However,
other parties are of the view that the house should function and there should be debates and discussions on a lot of issues, from regional to national," he said.
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said he was happy that the government called the meeting, but said that "unfortunately,
it wants to run the house on its own terms and conditions".
"This is not how a democracy functions. The opposition also wants the logjam to end, but our demand is clear cut - first resignations, then business."
Earlier during the day, Swaraj rejected the opposition’s allegations that she helped Lalit Modi’s efforts to obtain British travel documents.
Speaking in the Rajya Sabha amid noisy protests by opposition lawmakers, Swaraj said: “I never requested the British government for travel documents for Lalit Modi.”
She added she had not spoken to any government on behalf of Lalit Modi but her comments did not satisfy the opposition, which continued with its protests. The Rajya Sabha was subsequently adjourned till 2pm.
“This issue about me is being raised for the past two weeks. I informed the House…that I am ready for a discussion. For the last seven days, I am sitting here every day just so that the discussion may start," Swaraj said.
“But they don't start the discussion, they just create a ruckus. The facts this notice is based on are baseless and untrue...”
The Congress said it will make no compromise on its demand for the resignation of Swaraj, Raje and Chouhan.
The opposition has accused Raje of backing Modi’s immigration appeal to British authorities. It wants Chouhan to quit over the Vyapam recruitment and admissions scam.
"Parliamentary majority does not give anyone a license to escape accountability...We are not being aggressive just to match BJP’s aggression of the past, we are forced to take our position because of the government’s brazen attitude,” she added.
The BJP has said it is prepared for a discussion on the issue in Parliament but its leaders and ministers will not resign.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will only intervene when Parliament agrees to discuss contentious issues, ANI quoted its sources as saying. The debate must first start and only then will Modi speak, the sources said.
The government convened a meeting of 15 major political parties on Monday to discuss ways to end the stalemate in Parliament in an attempt to salvage the rest of the monsoon session and push its key reforms.
"Congress must understand they are not only stalling Parliament proceedings but are creating hindrance in the progress of the nation,"
said minister of state for parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
The monsoon session has already witnessed four all-party meetings but the impasse continued. With just nine working days to go before the session ends on August 13,
the government is worried about key bills stuck in the logjam, especially the Goods and Services Tax bill.
Government managers feel if the constitutional amendment bill is not passed in this session, the rollout of may be delayed by another year.
Pitching for the GST bill that will allow a single national tax to be levied on all goods and services, finance minister Arun Jaitley attacked the Congress in a Facebook post. .
"The Congress should accept and seriously introspect, after having ruled the country for the longest time, that negativism hurts the country.
Should its obstructionist tendencies inflict an economic injury on the country?"
"If the parliamentary affairs minister says that we have done more work in the past one year than was done in 10 previous years, the credit goes to the Congress.
We are the original reformers and helped them pass legislation like the insurance bill, coal bill and companies bill," he said.
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