Opposition raises pitch against govt after Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification


NEW DELHI: Opposition parties stepped up their offensive against the government and observed a ”black day for democracy” on Monday, three days after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was disqualified from the Lok Sabha.

Gandhi was disqualified from Parliament on March 24, a day after his conviction in a defamation case by a Surat court which also gave a two-year sentence to him.

Dressed in black, opposition MPs created a ruckus in both Houses of Parliament and forced their adjournment.

They later staged a protest in the Parliament Complex and took out a march to the Vijay Chowk, raising slogans against the government over Gandhi’s disqualification and on the Adani issue.

The BJP condemned the ruckus created by the Opposition in Parliament and accused the Congress of resorting to ”low-level politics” in its bid to justify Gandhi’s remarks against the OBC community.

Later in the evening, leaders of 18 opposition parties attended a strategy meeting at Congress president and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge’s residence and discussed the way forward. Former Congress presidents Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were also present in the meeting.

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut said they did not attend the meeting in protest against Rahul Gandhi’s ”unacceptable” remarks against V D Savarkar.

Leaders of the Trinamool Congress, Aam Aadmi Party and Bharat Rashtra Samithi attended the meeting, which was followed by a dinner.

The Trinamool Congress, which has so far stayed away from the Opposition’s protests, joined the sit-in at Vijay Chowk in the morning.

Kharge shared some photos of the opposition meeting and tweeted, ”To save one man, Modi ji is trampling the interests of 140 Cr people. To protect PM’s ‘Param Mitr’, BJP stalls Parliament that discusses people’s issues. If NO wrong is committed, why is Govt shying away from Opposition’s demand of a probe by Joint Parliamentary Committee?” To keep up its charge against the government, the Congress has decided to hold press conferences across the country on March 28 and 29.

”Senior Congress leaders will address press conferences in 35 cities on March 28 and 29 on ‘Democracy Dis’Qualified’. Among other issues, the reality of ‘Modani’ and the Modi government’s clean chit to Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi will also be highlighted,” party general secretary Jairam Ramesh said.

In Parliament, opposition members caused disruptions in both Houses forcing their adjournment soon after they reassembled for the day.

In the Lok Sabha, Congress members wearing black scarves trooped into the Well shouting slogans. Two Congress members, T N Pratapan and Hibi Eden, who were in the Well holding placards, hurled order papers towards the Chair along with their scarves.

”Dear ED daro mat, Adani per raid karo (ED don’t be scared, raid Adani),” read one of the placards.

After the Houses were adjourned, opposition MPs, including Sonia Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge, gathered near the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the Parliament Complex and raised slogans against the government.

Holding a huge ”Satyamev Jayate” banner and placards with ”save democracy” written on them, the MPs proceeded towards the Vijay Chowk where they staged a sit-in.

”Today is like a Black Day! Such things never happened earlier. For small things defamation cases are put on leaders and even when the punishment is not exceeding two years our leader has been disqualified,” Kharge told reporters, alleging that this has been done to discourage him, silence him and scare him.

The Modi government asked the Speaker to disqualify him in minutes and acted in lightning speed because they did not want him to speak in Parliament, Kharge alleged, adding that ”they wanted him to be silenced so that he does not raise his voice against the prime minister on the Adani issue”.

The Congress president said Rahul Gandhi carried out a successful Bharat Jodo Yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir during which lakhs of people joined him, and thereafter the ruling dispensation thought him to be its challenger and wanted to discourage him and scare him.

”But Rahul Gandhi is not scared and neither is the opposition party,” he claimed.

Kharge said Rahul Gandhi gave the speech in Kolar in Karnataka, but the defamation case was registered in Surat in Gujarat.

”Why? Because you wanted the favourable outcome. In Gujarat, there is a BJP government and you want to use the police, you want to use, I can’t say judiciary, but, you want to use for your purpose to defame Shri Rahul Gandhi Ji. That’s why you people transferred the case there. Therefore, I am saying, there is some collusion which will come out. That is why it is like a black day for democracy today,” he said.

He also asked how businessman Gautam Adani’s wealth rose so much in the last few years.

”When you are going to foreign countries how many times have you taken the industrialist with you,” he questioned the prime minister and said, ”We want a JPC on the Adani issue. Why is the government not agreeing to this? Why are you scared of a JPC probe… it means ‘dal mein kuch kala hai’ (something is wrong).” The Opposition has been seeking a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the allegations of corporate fraud and stock price manipulations against the Adani Group. The business group has denied the allegations.

Kharge said opposition MPs were dressed in black as the prime minister is ”finishing” off democracy.

Congress leader Sonia Gandhi was seen wearing a black scarf while other members of her party wore black shirts. National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah was wearing a black kurta.

In the morning, MPs of various opposition parties met at the Parliament Complex to discuss a strategy.

Leaders from DMK, Samajwadi Party, JD(U), BRS, CPI(M), CPI, RJD, NCP, IUML, MDMK, Kerala Congress, TMC, RSP, AAP, NC and Shiv Sena (UBT), among others, met at Kharge’s chamber.

Opposition members have displayed coordination during the Budget Session of Parliament and the Congress has expressed hope that this coordination will also be extended outside Parliament.

Attacking the Congress, Union minister Piyush Goyal questioned the party MPs’ behaviour as they turned up in Parliament wearing black clothes and created a ruckus in both Houses.

”Look at the behaviour. For the first time in several years, they (Congress MPs) tore papers and threw those at the Chair. The speaker repeatedly says he wants to run the House and that he would give everybody a chance (to speak),” Goyal said.

He said the Congress and other opposition parties are indulging in indecent behaviour in Parliament, ”leaving no other option for the Chair but to adjourn the proceedings”.

”The BJP vehemently condemns the efforts being made by their (Congress) leaders to insult the speaker and the chairman of the two Houses again and again,” Goyal said, asking, ”For how long will the Congress do this low-level politics?”


Source: Press Trust of India

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