New Delhi: The ruling party has “weaponized” the suspension of MPs as a convenient tool to “undermine democracy, sabotage Parliamentary practices and throttle the Constitution”, Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge said in a letter to Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar.
In his reply to a letter written by Dhankhar, Kharge said the Chairman’s letter “unfortunately justifies the autocratic and arrogant attitude of the Government towards Parliament.
“Replying to the points raised by Dhankhar, the senior Congress leader urged him to examine his concerns “objectively and with neutrality as the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.”
“The ruling party has indeed weaponized the suspension of members as a convenient tool to undermine democracy, sabotage Parliamentary practices, and throttle the Constitution.”
If anything privilege motions have also been weaponized to muzzle the voice of the Opposition.
This is a deliberate design of the ruling dispensation to undermine Parliament itself.
By suspending MPs, the government is effectively silencing the voice of the voters of 146 MPs altogether,” Kharge said.
“You have also mentioned that disorder was deliberate, strategized, and predetermined. I would like to submit that if anything, it is the mass suspension of the Opposition MPs from both Houses of Parliament that seems to be predetermined and premeditated by the Government and I am most sorry to say, executed without any application of mind, as can be seen by the suspension of an INDIA party MP who was not even present in the Parliament,” he said.
While Dhankhar, in his letter, had said that his attempts to meet the Leader of Opposition were turned down, Kharge said he had sought a statement from the Union Home Minister Amit Shah on the security breach on December 14, before the suspensions started.
“I recognize it is well within your powers as Chairman to decide on these notices. However, it was regrettable that the Chair condoned the attitude of the Hon’ble Home Minister and the Government who did not wish to make a statement on the floor of the House.”
It was even more regrettable that the Hon’ble Home Minister made his first public statement before a TV channel when Parliament was in session and the Chair did not find that sacrileging the temple of democracy,” Kharge said.
He said a Union minister allegedly informed an opposition parliamentarian that most opposition MPs will be suspended before the home minister is present in the Rajya Sabha.
“We would have expected the Chairman to have inquired if such a threat was indeed issued. Such comments grossly undermine the Chair who we believe is the final authority on conducting the House including suspension of members”.
He added that by suspending the MPs, the government is effectively silencing the voice of the voters of 146 MPs altogether.
Kharge said as the custodian of the House, the Chairman should protect the people’s right to hold its government accountable in Parliament.
“The Chairman should also kindly note that the government has escaped accountability on all crucial issues like serious border incursions by China, or continued unrest in Manipur, or the recent intrusion in the Lok Sabha by visitors who had been facilitated entry by a BJP MP,” he said.
“It would be distressing when history judges the presiding officers harshly for Bills passed without debate and not seeking accountability from the government. It is disappointing that the Hon’ble Chairman feels effecting suspensions facilitated legislative business by passing bills without discussion,” he said.
Kharge added that he agrees with the Chairman that they need to move ahead.
He, however, stressed that the answer may not lie in a discussion in the Chairman’s chambers, if the government is not keen on running the House.
Kharge said he is currently out of Delhi and it would be his “privilege and duty” to meet the Chairman as soon as he is back.