New Delhi, Aug 3: 25 of Congress party's 44 members in Lok Sabha were today suspended for five days for causing disruptions, setting the stage for escalation in confrontation as nine opposition parties decided to boycott the House for these days to express solidarity with the suspended members.
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan took the decision, first such major action in the present Lok Sabha, against the members for "persistently, wilfully obstructing" the House by displaying placards and shouting slogans. Congress President Sonia Gandhi described it as a "black day for democracy".
The Speaker, after several warnings, 'named' (identifying for action) the 25 Congress members who were in the Well demanding resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje over Lalit Modi row and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over Vyapam scam.
Contending that the members were "persistently, wilfully obstructing the House", she invoked Rule 374(A) which provides for automatic suspension of a member for five days. Congress has 44 members in all.
Mahajan adjourned the House immediately after. However, a number of the Congress members staged a sit-in in the House. An angry Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi also did not leave the House for quite some time and were seen holding discussions with leaders of some other opposition parties.
The Rule 374(A) says: "Notwithstanding anything contained in rules 373 and 374, in the event of grave disorder occasioned by a member coming into the well of the House or abusing the Rules of the House persistently and wilfully obstructing its business by shouting slogans or otherwise, such member shall, on being named by the Speaker, stand automatically suspended from the service of the House for five consecutive sittings or the remainder of the session, whichever is less."
Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said the Modi government was implementing the "Gujarat model" by resorting to suspension of opposition members and then running the House in one-sided manner.
At least 9 opposition parties TMC, NCP, CPI(M), CPI, RSP, Muslim League, RJD, JD(U) and AAP decided to boycott Lok Sabha for five days along with the suspended members. Mahajan later said she had taken the decision only to ensure that the House runs properly. (MORE)