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Why has Sharad Yadav's expulsion from Rajya Sabha been welcomed by eerie silence in the Opposition?

Charu Kartikeya | Updated on: 5 December 2017, 19:09 IST

Vice-President and Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu's decision to disqualify Sharad Yadav and Ali Anwar Ansari from the Rajya Sabha appears to have shocked the Opposition. The announcement has been welcomed by an eerie silence across the political spectrum.

In a late-night official communication, Naidu's office announced on 4 December that it was “crystal clear” that Yadav had “voluntarily given up his membership” of the Janata Dal (United). This is the ground for disqualification mentioned in paragraph 2 (1)(a) of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution.

Responding to the announcement, Yadav said if he had been disqualified for speaking against “undemocratic style” of certain leaders, this will not deter him from fighting “to save democracy”.

JD(U) leaders welcomed the development, proclaiming that institutions are above individuals.

From the Opposition, CPI (M) Secretary-General Sitaram Yechury was the only one who issued a statement, saying the development “casts a shadow”.

He also pointed out that the speed at which the decision was taken showed that “political affiliation was the only thing that matters”.

AAP's Nagendar Sharma was of a similar opinion.

However, conspicuous by their absence were statements from the Congress and Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). It was for attending RJD's rally that the JD (U) had petitioned Naidu against Sharad Yadav.

As for the Congress, the party had expressed full solidarity with the now disqualified leader in the days after his rebellion against JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar.

Yadav had refused to accept Kumar's decision to dump the Grand Alliance with Congress and RJD in Bihar and shake hands with the BJP. Kumar had resigned as CM, leading to the fall of the JD(U)-RJD-Congress government. He then accepted the BJP's support to become CM again.

Yadav and a few other JD(U) leaders close to him protested against this decision and organised seminars across the country, titled “Sanjhi Virasat Bachao”. Yechury and other leaders of the Left parties attended these seminars, as did Congress Vice-president Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Neither Gandhi nor Singh nor Azad have issued any statement so far.

This silence is surprising also because it appears to be on a weak footing. Sharad Yadav and his colleagues simply refused to toe the line that their party chief was asking them to. They protested and rallied to apply moral pressure on Nitish Kumar and his camp to reverse the decision, but did everything within the party-fold.

They never quit the party. If the party was unhappy with Yadav and other MPs in his camp, it should have expelled them for breach of discipline or anti-party conduct.

However, JD(U) took recourse to petition the Rajya Sabha Chairman to expel them from the House, because expulsion from the party would have allowed them to continue as MPs. The party, on the other hand, would have been poorer by at least two seats.

The Chairman ought to have exercised greater caution in handling the situation. By quickly deciding in favour of JD(U)'s request, Naidu has put the reputation of his chair as a bipartisan arbiter at stake. He has only validated the speculations that had arisen in September that Sharad Yadav's disqualification was imminent because it was part of the deal struck between BJP and JD(U) that made the two parties join hands to form the government in Bihar.

It is yet to be seen if Yadav will move court against his disqualification. If that indeed happens, that will be a case worth watching.

First published: 5 December 2017, 19:07 IST
Charu Kartikeya @CharuKeya

Assistant Editor at Catch, Charu enjoys covering politics and uncovering politicians. Of nine years in journalism, he spent six happily covering Parliament and parliamentarians at Lok Sabha TV and the other three as news anchor at Doordarshan News. A Royal Enfield enthusiast, he dreams of having enough time to roar away towards Ladakh, but for the moment the only miles he's covering are the 20-km stretch between home and work.