New Delhi: The Congress and some opposition parties on Wednesday persisted with their protest against the suspension of 25 MPs as the stalemate in the Rajya Sabha continued over the opposition demand for the resignations of three BJP leaders.
The BJP appealed to the Congress to reconsider its boycott of the Lok Sabha. Congress president Sonia Gandhi led the protest by party MPs near Mahatma Gandhi's statue within the parliament complex on the second successive day over the suspension of party MPs by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
The MPs wore black bands as a mark of protest and raised slogans against the NDA government. "End dictatorship", "Prime minister break silence" "Where have the 'achhe din (good days)' gone" and "Sushma Swaraj resign" were some of the slogans raised. "We will continue the agitation tomorrow (Thursday)" as well, the Congress chief told the media.
Gandhi said she was not aware of any proposal from the government to end the parliament logjam or for revocation of the suspension of the party MPs. Janata Dal-United leaders Sharad Yadav and K.C. Tyagi, Samajwadi Party's Dharmendra Yadav, Rashtriya Janata Dal's Jaya Prakash Narayan Yadav, Communist Party of India-Marxist's P. Karunakaran, Communist Party of India's D. Raja and Indian Union Muslim League leader E. Ahamed were among those who participated in the protest.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh was among those present. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said the party did "not like the decision of the Lok Sabha speaker, but we respect her position". The party's chief whip in the Lok Sabha, Jyotiraditya Scindia, said the suspended MPs will not submit an apology to Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
The Speaker had on Monday suspended the Congress parliamentarians for five days for "wilfully obstructing the business of the house" and not adhering to her repeated requests to observe the rules in the house. Scores of Youth Congress members staged a protest outside the residence of the speaker over the suspension.
"We are protesting against the undemocratic approach of the speaker in parliament," Amrish Ranjan, the national media coordinator of the Youth Congress, told IANS. "The suspension should be revoked and the prime minister should speak on this issue."
The Congress was pressing for the resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje over their alleged help to former IPL chief Lalit Modi and of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the Vyapam scam.
When the Lok Sabha assembled on Wednesday, opposition parties, including the SP, RJD and the Nationalist Congress Party, began shouting slogans against the government and wanted to raise their issues. The speaker declined to entertain their requests and the members of the three parties staged a walkout.
Besides the Congress and Trinamool Congress, members of the Left parties and Muslim League were also not present in the house. The Rajya Sabha faced two adjournments before being adjourned for the day as the Congress members kept raising slogans against the government and accused it of being "dictatorial".
The Rajya Sabha has been facing continuous disruptions since the start of parliament's monsoon session. Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu told reporters that the opposition boycott in the Lok Sabha was a "disservice" to the nation and urged all opposition members to come back to the house. "The government is ready to discuss any issue and if the opposition wants, the prime minister is ready to intervene," Naidu said.
He said the Congress had no moral right to oppose the suspension of its 25 MPs. Naidu said 63 MPs were suspended in 1989 during the Congress rule and even in the previous UPA rule, some members faced similar action. Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Congress "attitude" was not conveying a positive image of the country.
Prasad said the Congress should not give lessons to the BJP on democracy as it had imposed Emergency in 1975. "My earnest request to the Congress is that it reconsider and do some soul- searching," the minister said.