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25 Congress MPs suspended: BJP's Guj model backfires in Parliament

Panini Anand | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 3:30 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised that he would implement the Gujarat model at the Centre. He seems to have done exactly that, at least in Parliament.

On 3 August, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan suspended 25 MPs of the Congress for five days. This prompted Congress president Sonia Gandhi to declare this as a 'black day in Indian democracy'.

While this might be the first time such a large number of lawmakers have been penalised in Parliament, this was a common practice in the Gujarat Assembly during Modi's chief ministership.

Tactical error

However unlike Gujarat, the plan has backfired on the BJP in Parliament. The Congress, which till now appeared somewhat isolated, got the support of the bulk of the Opposition parties. The Trinamool Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party have even said that they would boycott Parliament during these five days.

The Congress president's statement struck a cord on social media with the hashtag #BlackDayForIndianDemocracy trending on top on Twitter all through Monday.

Congress was isolated till now. Now the entire Opposition is backing it. BJP's offensive has boomeranged

The MPs who have been suspended are BN Chandrappa, Santokh Singh Chaudhary, AHK Choudhury, Sushmita Dev, Ninog Ering, R Dhruvanarayana, Gaurav Gogoi, G Sukender Reddy, Deepender Hooda, Kodikunnil Suresh, SP Muddahanumegowda, Abhijit Mukherjee, Mullappally Ramachandran, KH Munniyappa, BV Nayak, Vincent Pala, MK Raghavan, Ranjeet Ranjan, CL Ruala, T Sahu, Rajeev Satav, Ravneet Singh Bittoo, DK Suresh, KC Venugopal and T Meinya.

The Congress MPs were raising slogans demanding the resignation of Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje in connection with the Lalit Modi controversy and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in connection with the Vyapam scam.

"They were doing it (protesting) repeatedly for days. They tried to shadow the ministers of the government. They even tried to shadow the speaker. This was completely unacceptable. Its not in my habit to act like this. I was forced to do so," was Mahajan's explanation.

Gujarat model

When he was the chief minister of Gujarat, Modi was used to having his way in the Assembly. Even though the BJP enjoyed a comfortable majority in the Assembly, Opposition MLAs were often placed under suspension, sometimes even for the entire session.

Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil told Catch, "There were many sessions when Opposition MLAs were suspended without a valid reason. I was leader of the Opposition in the previous Assembly and the entire Opposition was suspended for two sessions. Not just a party, but the entire Opposition".

"Modi has no faith in parliamentary democracy. He has no respect for the opinions of others," he added. As CM, Modi is known to have ignored Opposition leaders and avoided questions raised by them.

The similarities with Gujarat haven't gone unnoticed.

"Modi is following the Gujarat model nationally. This has never happened in the house. Sumitra Mahajan is creating history. However, this will set a wrong precedent," says senior Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy.

"In the previous Lok Sabha, the House was not allowed to function for almost 180 days. But no BJP MP was suspended," Roy reminds

According to JD(U) leader KC Tyagi "the move is autocratic and can't be justified. We oppose it and we will register our protest at every level".

Is there a way out?

Before the Speaker's action, an all party meeting took place to resolve the logjam in Parliament. It remained inconclusive.

"The ruling party made no proposal during the all party meeting. It is clear they don't want the House to function but want to blame the Opposition for the crisis," said Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Congress leader in the Lok Sabha.

Till now the Opposition was disunited, with only Congress protesting against the government. Now, other parties have rallied around it..The Opposition is now more united and aggressive.

First published: 3 August 2015, 11:00 IST
Panini Anand @paninianand

Senior Assistant Editor at Catch, Panini is a poet, singer, cook, painter, commentator, traveller and photographer who has worked as reporter, producer and editor for organizations including BBC, Outlook and Rajya Sabha TV. An IIMC-New Delhi alumni who comes from Rae Bareli of UP, Panini is fond of the Ghats of Varanasi, Hindustani classical music, Awadhi biryani, Bob Marley and Pink Floyd, political talks and heritage walks. He has closely observed the mainstream national political parties, the Hindi belt politics along with many mass movements and campaigns in last two decades. He has experimented with many mass mediums: theatre, street plays and slum-based tabloids, wallpapers to online, TV, radio, photography and print.