Govt manufactured RS majority by suspending Opposition MPs to get key legislations passed, says Congress

"The intention of the govt was to get their bills passed urgently in the din and without a discussion. They wanted to fulfil their agenda," Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge (File photo: PTI)
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge (File photo: PTI)
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Rahul Gul

The Congress accused the Centre on Wednesday of manufacturing a majority in Parliament by suspending Opposition members in contravention of rules to get key legislations passed in the din and without a discussion.

Addressing a press conference, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and the party's chief whip in the Upper House Jairam Ramesh alleged that the government is throttling the voice of the Opposition leaders to prevent them from raising issues of public importance.

Ramesh accused the government of undermining the constitutional position of the leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha by not allowing him to speak in the House, which he said is not healthy for the country's democracy.

He also charged the government with unsuccessfully trying to break the Opposition unity by bringing various issues for discussion, but lauded the parties for remaining together in their demand for revoking the suspension of 12 MPs and in seeking the dismissal of Union minister Ajay Mishra in connection with the Lakhimpur Kheri violence.

Kharge said the Opposition has been raising the issue of the suspension of the MPs, but the government is not ready to resolve it. He said he was ready to express regret on behalf of the 12 MPs on the first day of the winter session of Parliament itself, even though they were wrongly suspended from the Rajya Sabha.

"The intention of the government was to get their bills passed urgently in the din and without a discussion. They wanted to fulfil their agenda," he said.

Kharge said the UPA has 68 members in the Rajya Sabha, along with 50 from other Opposition parties and two independents and thus, the Opposition has 120 members, while the ruling NDA has 118.

He alleged that the government did not want a division as it was in a minority and that is why the 12 MPs were suspended on the very first day of the session.

"Their purpose was to manufacture a majority and they found this way of suspending members for their acts in the last session. This was a conspiracy on the part of the government to get key legislations passed as part of their agenda and not face any issues of farmers, price rise, unemployment, the GDP or the Lakhimpur Kheri incident," the Congress leader said.

He alleged that the chairman did not intervene and instead, "asked us to resolve the issue with the government".

"They turned our 12 MPs deaf and dumb and they kept sitting outside in the cold. We did not do anything. We have done no mistake and it is the government which has committed the mistake deliberately as they did not have a majority in the Upper House and they feared that their bills would fall," he said.

Kharge said he was disallowed from raising the issue of land scam in Ayodhya, where the relatives of 14 people associated with the BJP have "usurped" land around the Ram temple complex.

Chowdhury said they wanted the House to function, but when Mishra's name came up, they thought of seeking answers from the government as he is a member of the Union cabinet.

"We demanded a discussion and wanted that for the sake of morality, he should resign till the time the probe is over in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident," he said.

"The tension in the House cropped up due to the arrogance of the majority of the ruling party. They only want to bulldoze through the majority they enjoy," Chowdhury added.

"We were never running away from a debate. We wanted a discussion on price rise, but it was listed after the Lakhimpur issue came up. They deliberately brought the price rise issue to stop us from raising the Lakhimpur issue," he said.

Ramesh said the winter session started with the "undemocratic" passage of a bill to repeal three farm laws and ended in the same manner with the passage of the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill.

"This is a very dangerous law. This law is as dangerous for the minorities, Dalits, women, tribals and all the members of the weaker sections as the three farm laws were for farmers," he said while claiming that 55 lakh names have been removed from the voter lists in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

The result of this law will be that the constitutional right to vote will be snatched away from lakhs of people from the weaker sections of the society due to the provision for Aadhar linkage, the former Union minister feared.

"The manner in which the LoP is being undermined in the Rajya Sabha, I have never seen in 18 years. Such undermining of the leader of opposition, who holds a constitutional post, is not healthy for our democracy. Khargeji would complete 50 years in politics in February 2022. This is a wrong tradition," he said.

Ramesh said the Congress is still ready to provide constructive support to the government and wants that apart from the budget, these issues be discussed in Parliament.

Asked about the absence of the Opposition even during the passage of the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, he said it was a "collective decision" taken by 15 parties.

"It was a consensual decision, reflecting our frustration over the continued suspension and the unwillingness of the government to get the resignation (of Mishra). Suspension plus lack of resignation is equal to frustration," the chief whip of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha said.

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