NEW DELHI: The Congress on Sunday said “blatant partisanship” was witnessed in the expunction of remarks of its leaders and suspension of its Rajya Sabha MP, and alleged the BJP-led government wanted to establish an “authoritarian dominance” in Parliament by “terrorising” the Opposition.
Senior Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi claimed the BJP does not want Parliament to run through consensus, collaboration and concordance, but through “clash, chaos, and conflict”.
— Congress (@INCIndia) February 12, 2023
The “autocratic and dictatorial face” of the BJP and the ruling dispensation was in full show in each House of Parliament in the “undemocratic and unparliamentary” expunction of several remarks of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and Rahul Gandhi, and in the suspension of Rajani Patil from the Rajya Sabha, he said.
The BJP government, he alleged, is moving towards establishing an “authoritarian dominance in Parliament by terrifying, terrorising, tormenting, and tyrannizing the Opposition”.
Alluding to the expunction of words from Gandhi and Kharge’s speeches in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha respectively while participating in a debate on the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address last week, Singhvi said not a word stated therein justifies the use of the power of expunction “There is no use of unparliamentary language, no expletives, no debasement of any institution, no objectionable or abusive word or phrase.
“There is absolutely nothing which is remotely defamatory or indecent or unparliamentary or undignified in those addresses,” he said at a press conference at the AICC headquarters here.
The Rajya Sabha MP said the Speaker and the Chairperson are constitutional office holders and the custodians and defenders of freedom of speech inside the Houses “which is a fundamental pillar of our democracy, especially within the temple of democracy viz Parliament.
Without their robust shield, the spirit of healthy parliamentary discussion and debate will perish, Singhvi said.
Unless free, frank and fearless discussion is allowed to take place within the two Houses of Parliament, democracy is fundamentally and irreversibly imperiled, he stressed.
“Expunction is not justified by any reading of the relevant Rules, like Rule 380 qua Lok Sabha and similar Rules in Rajya Sabha dealing with expunction. None of the tests therein are even applicable, much less met,” he said.
This government and the ruling party’s approach show that this is the most “curb, control and command freak” government in the history of this nation, he alleged.
Singhvi also lashed out at the government over the suspension of Patil on Friday, calling the action disproportionate, excessive and actuated purely by political malice at the behest of this government.
“The entire opposition, cutting across the political spectrum, had no option but to walk out of the House in protest,” he said referring to the action against Patil.
The MP was in a 15-minute “surgical strike” suspended for alleged video recording of House proceedings during the prime minister’s speech in Rajya Sabha on February 9, Singhvi said.
He pointed out that no show-cause notice was issued and no prior intimation was given.
The Rule 257 of the Upper House Rules, invoked for this was textually inapplicable, he argued.
It is part of a set of rules empowering suspension in respect of “persistent and willful” obstruction of House proceedings by a member, in a situation where such conduct makes the running of the House impossible for the Chair, Singhvi said.
“At worst, it was a one-time, first-time, alleged act, yet to be proved and could not possibly constitute any persistent, consistent or repetitive obstructive course of conduct,” he said.
All elementary notions of fair play were thrown to the winds, he claimed.
There have been similar alleged incidents in the past, including by members of the present ruling party, where no action was taken or, at the highest, warnings sufficed, he said.
Singhvi said the Chair ought not to have acted on the “one-sided and unilateral” proposal of the ruling dispensation, without awaiting even a preliminary inquiry, when the conduct of the ruling party and government smacks of “one-sidedness and bias”.
“A bare look at the telecast of proceedings on February 9 by Sansad TV discloses the highly biased, selective and one-sided approach of the channel, acting under the misconception that it is a government mouthpiece or a ‘sarkari’ department,” he said.
The Opposition was given an infinitesimal fraction of the coverage accorded to the Treasury benches on February 9 and was virtually blacked out during the long speech of the PM, he claimed.
“This is a new low of partisanship was achieved on the directions of this dictatorial government,” he said.
Singhvi said while the Opposition was united in condemning the manner in which the MP was suspended, it would decide the future course of action on the issue at a meeting Monday morning.
Source: Press Trust of India