TMC MP Santanu Sen suspended for rest of monsoon session
Trinamul Congress MP Santanu Sen was on Friday suspended from the Rajya Sabha for the remainder of the monsoon session for “unruly” behaviour amid protests by leaders of his party over the Pegasus controversy.
Rajya Sabha chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu approved Sen’s suspension after minister of state for parliamentary affairs V. Muraleedharan moved a motion.
Sen had snatched and torn a copy of the government statement on the Pegasus snooping row from information technology minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Thursday and thrown it towards the Chair.
In his motion, Muraleedharan had said Sen’s actions had brought disrepute to the House.
Trinamul leader Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said the motion had not been mentioned in the list of business for Friday. The party also did not get an opportunity to react to the motion, he added.
Earlier, Naidu expressed anguish over Thursday’s incident and said the “proceedings of the House hit a new low with the papers being snatched from the minister and torn into pieces and thrown in the air”. “Such actions are a clear assault on our parliamentary democracy,” Naidu said.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said the IT minister must be available to answer the clarifications sought by members on his statement on the Pegasus controversy. Naidu assured the members that they would be given an opportunity.
As Sen was present after the approval of the suspension motion, Naidu asked him to withdraw himself from the House.
However, Sen kept sitting, forcing Naidu to adjourn the session for 35 minutes. When the House reassembled at noon, deputy chairman Harivansh asked Sen to leave. The MP complied.
At 2.30pm, the Rajya Sabha reconvened but did not function for long. Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge raised the Pegasus issue and said the government had been carrying out spying and online surveillance_ of senior politicians, judges, journalists and activists. _This has implication on the right to privacy of citizens, he said. The Congress leader wanted a discussion by suspending all other business.
Deputy leader of the House Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said a discussion had already taken place as the IT minister had made a statement.
Trinamul Lok Sabha MP Mahua Moitra has given a privilege notice against IT minister Vaishnaw for allegedly misleading the House on the Pegasus spyware.
Attaching documents in support of her contention, Moitra said in a petition to the Lok Sabha secretary-general that the minister had misled the House by making statements that he knew to be false. Moitra said the question of privilege should be referred to the committee concerned.