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Government on suspension row: “If 12 MPs apologise to speaker, then we can review”

By Ruchi Upadhyay 
Updated Date

New Delhi: The government was “forced” to suspend 12 opposition MPs from this Parliament session for “misbehaviour” – related to the events of August 11, the last day of the previous session – but will consider revoking the suspension if they apologise, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said.

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Mr Joshi tweeted Tuesday morning to also say the government planned to introduce “important bills” in the House in this session, and called on the opposition to “allow… a healthy discussion”.

“To maintain dignity of the House, government was compulsorily forced to place this proposal of suspension… But if these 12 MPs apologise to the Speaker and House for their misbehavior, the government is ready to consider their proposal positively with an open heart,” he said.

“The government is ready to debate every issue, as per rules, and answer every question. Many important bills are to be introduced in the House… I once again appeal to all the parties to allow the House to function and have a fruitful and healthy discussion on all these bills,” Mr Joshi added.

Yesterday (the first day of Parliament’s winter session), 12 Rajya Sabha MPs, including the Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi, were suspended from this entire session for scenes of ruckus in August, when opposition MPs and the government were at loggerheads over the Pegasus scandal.

The House erupted just as the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill was passed, despite demands to refer it to a select committee.

Women opposition MPs alleged they were roughed up by House marshals, and opposition parties slammed the government for forcing bills through Parliament. A joint statement accused the government of an “authoritarian attitude and undemocratic actions”, and of “deliberately derailing” Parliament despite facing “unanimous” calls to discuss the Pegasus scandal and other issues.

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The government countered saying it was women marshals who were attacked, and a phalanx of eight Union Ministers, including Mr Joshi, accused the opposition of “literally threatening that if (the government attempts to pass more) bill, there will be even more damage done”.

Yesterday’s suspension motion said the 12 MPs had committed “unprecedented acts of misconduct, contemptuous, violent and unruly behaviour and intentional attacks on security personnel”.

The opposition has condemned the suspension, calling it “unwarranted and undemocratic”.

Opposition party floor leaders will meet today to chalk out a response plan, but Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress will not be part of this meeting.

There is no precedent on action being taken against MPs for actions in a previous session.

Rule 256, under which they have been suspended, says a Member of Parliament can be suspended “for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session”.

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Apart from Ms Chaturvedi, the list of suspended MPs also includes her colleague Anil Desai, the Trinamool’s Dola Sen and Shanta Chhetri, the CPM’s Elamaram Kareem and six Congress leaders.

Congress MP Chhaya Verma has slammed the suspension as “unfair”, telling news agency ANI: “This suspension is simply unfair. There were other members from other parties who created a ruckus but the chairman suspended me. PM Modi is doing just as he wishes since he enjoys a brute majority.”

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