New Delhi: With home cooked food, water bottles, some songs and packets of Odomos mosquito repellent, the eight suspended Rajya Sabha MPs completed their one-of-its-kind nightlong dharna under the open sky, protesting against their suspension, on the Parliament premises Tuesday.
Early Tuesday morning, around 7.30, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh visited the suspended MPs with tea. He had a chat with them in an attempt to break the impasse but senior opposition leaders told ThePrint that the stalemate is likely to continue until the MPs’ suspension is revoked.
“We told Harivanshji that on Sunday all parliamentary norms were set aside to pass the anti-farmer bill when the BJP did not have the numbers,” AAP leader Sanjay Singh, who is one of the suspended MPs, said in a video message. “We kept asking for voting but you did not allow it. We are not here to serve any relationship. We are sitting here to get justice for the country’s farmers, who have been cheated.”
There is likely to be more protests in Rajya Sabha Tuesday as of the eight suspended MPs, four have moved resolutions opposing some bills that may be taken up in the House. Since the MPs are suspended, their names do not figure in the list, an opposition MP said.
Eight opposition MPs were suspended for a week from Rajya Sabha Monday for their unruly behaviour inside the Upper House Sunday, during the passage of two contentious farm bills. Opposition MPs came to the well of the house shouting slogans, throwing rule books and breaking the microphone placed on the deputy chairman’s table. The MPs alleged that they were denied voting rights by the deputy chairman.
Leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad Tuesday said on the floor of the House that the opposition will boycott the Upper House until the suspension of the eight members is revoked.
Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, however, said that action has been taken based on the conduct of the eight leaders and urged the opposition leaders to “rethink, introspect, return to the House to take part in discussion”.
Visitors stream in to meet suspended MPs
While the eight suspended leaders — Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’ Brien and Dola Sen, Congress’ Rajeev Satav, Ripun Bora and Syed Nasir Hussain, Aam Aadmi Party’s Sanjay Singh, CPI(M)’s Elamaram Kareem and K.K. Ragesh — spent the night adjacent to the Mahatma Gandhi statue outside the Parliament building, they had a steady stream of visitors until after midnight.
Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh came with boxes of water bottles for the protesting MPs while Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ahmed Patel and Shashi Tharoor too joined in. So did Nationalist Congress Party’s Praful Patel and Supriya Sule, DMK leaders including Kanimozhi and Tiruchi Siva, Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut and Priyanka Chaturvedi, Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav and Jaya Bachchan.
But it was the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, which sprung a surprise when its MPs from both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha visited the protesting MPs to express solidarity. TRS is one of the opposition parties that is friendly to the BJP. But the party had opposed the two contentious farm bills passed by the Rajya Sabha Sunday.
After the suspended MPs decided to hold a nightlong dharna, they got bedsheets and pillows from home. Some like Trinamool Congress’ O’Brien went home and changed into T-shirts and a trackpant.
“Since the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha was shut, the MPs were provided a separate washroom at the Parliament reception. Besides, two ambulances were kept at standby for emergency as two senior MPs were also present among the protesting members,” said an opposition MP, who did not want to be named.
Trinamool leader Dola Sen and AAP leader Sanjay Singh kept the protesting MPs in good humour by singing songs. “Opposition parties including Congress, Trinamool Congress and AAP sent fruits, water bottles and Odomos mosquito repellent. There was a lot of camaraderie,” a second opposition leader said.