New Delhi (IANS): A combative opposition on Tuesday protested inside and outside parliament over the suspension of 25 Congress MPs, with Congress president Sonia Gandhi dubbing the Lok Sabha speaker’s decision a “murder” of democracy. The BJP retorted that there was “no democracy in the Congress DNA”.
Congress leaders, including Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and vice president Rahul Gandhi, joined a noisy protest at the Mahatma Gandhi statue in the parliament complex — all of them sporting a black band on their arms.
The MPs shouted slogans like “Down with Narendra Modi”, “We want justice” and “Shame on you dictator”. Similar protests also took place in Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and some other states.
The suspension brought together on Tuesday virtually the entire opposition, with even parties opposed to the Congress boycotting the Lok Sabha in protest against Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s Monday decision.
Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav echoed the opposition sentiment when he said: “The suspension is not right. It should be taken back. And the MPs should be called back to attend the house.”
Rahul Gandhi made it clear that the Congress would not relent on its demand for the resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and the chief ministers of BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
“We will not budge… There will be no let up in our pressure (on the government) as far as issues of corruption, Sushma Swaraj and Vyapam (scandal) are concerned,” he said.
Sonia Gandhi called the suspension of MPs “anti-democratic”.
“It is the duty of the government to run the house. The way our MPs were suspended was anti-democratic. Democracy is being murdered,” she said.
Rahul Gandhi added: “Vyapam scam has destroyed the lives of thousands. Sushma Swaraj has broken laws, and the Rajasthan chief minister is financially involved with (former IPL chief) Lalit Modi.
“The demand for their resignation is not the demand of the Congress but of the entire country.”
He added: “The PM likes to do ‘Mann ki baat’. Instead he should listen to ‘Hindustan ki Mann ki baat’.”
Manmohan Singh said suspending Congress MPs was no way to resolve issues.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said parties like the Trinamool Congress, the Left and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had pledged their support to his party and vowed to boycott the Lok Sabha.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Samajwadi Party also joined the Congress protest outside parliament.
More parties boycotted the Lok Sabha proceedings, including the Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India-Marxist, Revolutionary Socialist Party, NCP, Janata Dal-United, Indian Union Muslim League, AAP, Trinamool Congress and the Samajwadi Party.
RJD, Samajwadi Party and Left members were present in the house in the morning but walked out after the speaker did not allow them to raise the issue of suspending the Congress MPs.
In the Rajya Sabha, the Congress and other opposition parties remained boisterous, leading to the washout of another day’s proceedings.
Disregarding the suspension of their Lok Sabha colleagues, Congress members in the upper house displayed placards against Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje. Madhusudan Mistry waved a piece of black cloth.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader and union minister Prakash Javadekar said: “The Congress talking of democracy is like the devil quoting scriptures. There is no democracy in their DNA… The mother is the party president and the son the vice president. Will they teach us democracy?
“Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are responsible for the logjam in parliament.”
Earlier, the BJP parliamentary party, at a meeting also attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, blamed the Congress for days of parliament disruption and accused it of “obstructionism and negativity”. The BJP made it clear that none of its leaders would resign.