Rajya Sabha chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar on Monday suspended Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sanjay Singh for the rest of the monsoon session after he rushed to the Well while seeking a discussion on Manipur as the Upper House remained crippled for the third consecutive day over violence in the northeastern state.
Dhankhar’s action may prolong the impasse as Opposition parties stick to their demand for a detailed discussion on Manipur.
The government has said it is ready for a discussion under Rule 176, which provides for a short-duration discussion of up to two and a half hours. However, the Opposition parties have demanded discussion under Rule 267, which requires the suspension of all business for the day.
Dhankhar on Monday said he had received 11 notices for discussion under Rule 176 and 27 notices under Rule 267. He started reading the subject of each notice under Rule 176 with the names of the members and their parties. Ten of these notices were by BJP MPs and related to the violence in panchayat elections in Bengal, crime against women in Rajasthan and Bengal, police atrocity in Telangana and brutal use of police force against protesters in Bihar.
When it came to the notices moved under Rule 267, Dhankhar started reading out the names of members without mentioning the party affiliations. Trinamul Congress leader Derek O’Brien protested against the omission of names of the parties by the chairman. Following a heated exchange between the two, the House was adjourned.
When the House met at noon, Dhankhar announced that the Question Hour would be taken up. Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge was seen raising his hands to speak while members of the Opposition parties stood up in their respective places and started shouting “Modi sarkar murdabad” and “Manipur lajja”.
The Question Hour continued for a few minutes amid the din when Singh moved into the Well. When he refused to obey Dhankhar’s order to go back to his seat, the chairman said: “I name Sanjay Singh”. Under Rule 256, the chairman has the power to name a member who disregards the authority of the Chair.
Dhankhar asked Leader of the House Piyush Goyal to move a motion to suspend Singh. Goyal verbally moved the motion.
“Sanjay Singh is suspended for the entire duration of the session for having repeatedly violated the directions of the Chair,” Dhankhar said.
The House was again adjourned till 2pm.
After suspension, a member is supposed to leave the House but Singh didn’t. In the post-lunch session, deputy chairman Harivansh adjourned the House twice as Singh remained present in the chamber.
Singh told reporters: “Under rule 267, I demanded a discussion on Manipur from the chairman. When he did not hear, I went to him and I was suspended. A Kargil jawan’s wife was paraded naked in Manipur. The whole country and the army have bowed their heads in shame. Why does the Prime Minister not come to the House and answer? Is he so shameless? Our demonstration will continue. All parties have given their support to this movement.”
AAP’s Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha said he had submitted a suspension of business notice under Rule 267 along with the other Opposition MPs on Monday and questioned the failure of the Centre to uphold Articles 355 and 356 of the Constitution.
He added: “According to Article 355 of the Constitution, it is the responsibility of the central government to ensure peace in states and protect them from both external aggression and internal disturbances. However, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government has failed to fulfil this obligation.”