Protests erupted in the Indian parliament when 49 more opposition MPs were suspended, bringing the total number of blocked lawmakers to 141.
The lawmakers were denouncing last week’s security lapse in parliament. On Monday, the opposition accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of undermining democracy by suspending a record 78 MPs in one day.
The majority of lawmakers have been prevented from voting for the remainder of the winter session, which concludes on Friday. However, depending on the ruling of the parliament’s privileges committee, almost two dozen may have to stay away for an extended period.
Inside Scenario of Indian Parliament
The majority of the banned MPs are members of the INDIA alliance, a coalition of opposition parties hoping to challenge Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the general election next year.
The coalition has 142 MPs in the Lok Sabha, the lower chamber of parliament, of which 95 have been suspended. It has 101 MPs in the 250-member Rajya Sabha (a few seats are empty), 46 of whom have been suspended.
“Unfortunately, we have to start writing obituaries for parliamentary democracy in India,” Congress MP Shashi Tharoor remarked after being suspended. The ruling BJP has accused opposition politicians of purposefully interrupting the winter session.
The opposition MPs responded by accusing the government of being tyrannical. They are still protesting “against the murder of democracy and the violation of the dignity of Parliament” through silent demonstrations.
Presiding officers of the upper and lower houses suspended opposition lawmakers for disrupting proceedings after they demanded a discussion and statement from Home Minister Amit Shah regarding last week’s security breach in which two men opened gas canisters inside the lower house chamber and a man and woman opened smoke canisters outside the parliament in New Delhi.
Om Birla, the lower house speaker, has stated that security is his duty and that he is conducting a review. He has criticized the MPs for breaching House rules. The breach of security is also being investigated by the federal Home Ministry.
Some academicians have said that the government justified the move by claiming that the opposition was suspended for causing a commotion and being rowdy, thereby impeding the functioning of parliament.
So far, six people have been arrested in the case, with police accusing four protestors under a strict anti-terrorism statute.
Although police have not publicly stated a motive, media reports and the relatives of the accused have stated that the demonstrators were unemployed and wanted to demonstrate their displeasure with the government’s policies.
The breach took place on the 22nd anniversary of a lethal militant attack on the parliament. Opposition lawmakers have also requested a debate in parliament on the security breach.
Mr. Modi did not address the subject in the Indian parliament, but he did tell a Hindi daily that “what happened is very serious.” “There is no need to debate this; a thorough investigation should be conducted.”
Mr. Shah has also not spoken in the Indian parliament but stated at an event that a high-level investigation into the issue has been ordered, accusing the opposition of politicizing the security breach.
“The Prime Minister can speak to a newspaper, and the Home Minister can speak to TV channels,” said Mallikarjun Kharge, president of the opposition Congress party. “But they have zero accountability left to parliament, representing the people of India.” Mr. Kharge, a Rajya Sabha member, has not been charged.
Manoj Kumar Jha, an MP from the regional Rashtriya Janata Dal, described his suspension as a “badge of honor.”
Some opposition MPs, notably Mr. Kharge, have claimed that the government has purposefully suspended many opposition leaders to pass critical measures without debate.
However, federal minister Piyush Goyal, who presented a motion to suspend 34 MPs in the upper chamber on Monday, dubbed the opposition’s protest a “pre-planned strategy” to disrupt the running of the winter session and delay crucial laws.
But the major question here is: how will the Indian parliament work? The governing party and its supporters will meet the quorum of 10% with an overwhelming majority. While laws are normally enacted after a debate in the Indian parliament, they have been passed without debate on countless occasions in the past.
But the major questions here arise. What if any MP was harmed by those suspects? Is the suspension of MPs in the Indian Parliament a dictatorial move or not? Has the opposition breached the decorum of the parliamentary proceedings?