Women MPs manhandled in Rajya Sabha, Opposition calls it ‘death of democracy’

Several women and male MPs were manhandled by more than 40 marshals when they moved towards the well of House after govt brought in Insurance Amendment Bill to privatise GIC

Women MPs manhandled in Rajya Sabha, Opposition calls it ‘death of democracy’
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Ashlin Mathew

Unruly scenes were witnessed in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, just before it was adjourned sine die, when several women and male MPs were manhandled by more than 40 marshals who had entered the well of the House.

After the passing of the Constitutional Amendment Bill to restore the powers of the states to make their own OBC lists, the government brought in the Insurance Amendment Bill to privatise the General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC)after 6.30 pm. All Opposition members, including BJP’s allies, wanted to send the Bill to a Select Committee. But the Chair of the House did not accede to this request.

“To protest, several Opposition MPs moved to the well of the House and marshals immediately moved in. There were more marshals than Opposition members. What is disturbing and worrisome was the pushing and shoving of women MPs. My worry is if this is how they view parliamentary democracy, we have lost the plot,” said Manoj K Jha, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) Rajya Sabha MP.

He alleged that some in the ruling party wanted to create a ruckus which would allow them to pass the Bill. “This is not how a democracy functions. If this is how they behave, let us assume we are living in a monarchy,” added Jha.

Congress MP Dr Amee Yajnik said that her fellow Congress MPs Chhaya Verma and Phulo Devi were pushed by the marshals, with the latter injured in the melee as she fell down. “This is not a market where people have to jostle. Imagine how we could have been treated if we were out on the streets. Nowhere have I seen such treatment meted out to women. It has never happened in Parliament. It was marshals versus parliamentarians,” she added.

While the marshals were shoving the women MPs, Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale used derogatory language, alleged Yajnik. “Is this how they will treat women who raise their voice? The Chairperson said he would give a ruling against the un-parliamentary language, but he did not. They speak about ‘Beti Bachao’, but then attack women leaders in the well of the House,” alleged Yajnik.

Trinamool Congress MP Dola Sen said that NCP’s Priyanka Chaturvedi and TMC’s Shanta Chhetri and Mausam Noor were pushed around by the marshals. “We do not know why so many marshals were brought in. Our job is to raise our voice. People will teach a lesson to this government for this arrogance. Just like they were taught a lesson in West Bengal, people will give a befitting response in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Tripura and Uttarkhand and other state elections,” Sen said.

Sen said none of the ministers even moved or made an attempt to stop the marshals from attacking the women MPs. They just watched the marshals employ brute force on the women, she said.

Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge underscored that there was a war-like atmosphere in the house. “There were more marshals than members. The marshals manhandled our women members. Even within the Parliament women are not safe,” he added.

Expressing his shock, NCP leader Sharad Pawar reportedly said, “In my 55 years of parliamentary career, I never saw the way the women MPs were attacked today. More than 40 men and women were brought into the House from outside. It is painful. It is an attack on democracy.”

TMC MP Derek O’Brien tweeted that the brutal government was using “GENDER SHIELDS” to foil MPs’ protests inside Rajya Sabha. Male marshals for women MPs; female marshals posted in front of male MPs.

“A black day for Parliament. They have virtually made it a military barrack. Brute force was used against members including women. What was our crime? We opposed the Insurance Bill. It in fact was insurance annihilation Bill. 'Atmanirbhar BJP' has surrendered India to capitalists,” tweeted Binoy Viswam, CPI MP.

Jha said he was disturbed as a parliamentarian as he never thought Parliament would be reduced to this for the passing of a Bill such as the Insurance Bill, which is not a “matter of life and death”.

“This means democracy is compromised. There is no respect for procedure. Even parties supporting the BJP wanted to send it to the select committee. Today’s events remind me of the ‘Night of the Long Knives’ in German History when Adolf Hitler ordered execution of leaders who he feared had grown too powerful,” said Jha.

In anguish, Yajnik said that this was the floor of the House where the founding fathers discussed how to take forward the idea of India. “The ruling party is enjoying the fruits of our labour and waiting to destroy democracy.”

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