The Congress-led opposition on Tuesday, November 30, staged a walkout from the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha to protest the suspension of 12 opposition members of the Upper House with leaders saying they will continue to raise their voices on the matter. After the walkout, opposition MPs demonstrated outside Mahatma Gandhi's statue inside Parliament complex, raising slogans against the government and its "dictatorial attitude".
A day after the MPs were suspended from the Rajya Sabha for the entire winter session, the Congress said the move was against the rules and practices of the House. Accusing the government of adopting the path of confrontation with the opposition, the Congress said talk of cooperation in the smooth running of the House "is a sham".
"We and other opposition leaders opposed the suspension of MPs in Rajya Sabha and under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi and TR Baalu staged a walkout in the Lok Sabha. We have decided to oppose the way democracy has been tattered in Rajya Sabha by suspending 12 MPs. We have decided to oppose such a dictatorial attitude of the government," Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, said after the walkout.
This government, he added, is not giving opposition MPs the opportunity to speak inside the house. "The government wants to threaten the opposition and suppress their voice by suspending its members in Rajya Sabha. We cannot keep quiet about the suspension of our members in the Rajya Sabha," Chowdhury told reporters outside Parliament.
His party colleague Anand Sharma, Congress deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha, said the opposition is seriously concerned over the developments. What has happened is in violation of precedents, rules and practices, Sharma said.
"We have urged the chairman to revoke the suspension and the opposition protest will continue. The rules don't allow us to take action against members over what happened in the last session," Sharma said. He alleged that the government had embarked on the path of confrontation with the opposition.
The 12 MPs suspended for the remaining part of the winter session for their misconduct and unruly behaviour during the last session include Congress' Chhaya Verma, Shiv Sena's Priyanka Chaturvedi and TMC's Dola Sen. Of the 12, six are from the Congress, two each from the TMC and Shiv Sena and one each from the CPM and the CPI.
In the Lok Sabha, Trinamool Congress members neither joined the protests nor walked out. In the Rajya Sabha, the party's members staged a walkout a short while after the other opposition MPs. Its leader Derek O'Brien said it's not the opposition but the 80 MPs of the treasury benches who should be suspended as they blocked certain discussions during the previous monsoon session.