8 suspended MPs spend the night at Parliament lawn, refuses tea offered by Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson

Eight opposition Rajya Sabha MPs who were suspended on Monday over Sunday’s chaos over the controversial farm bills, spent the night on the lawns of the Parliament complex. They announced that they are on an “indefinite” protest. The suspended MPs include Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brien, Dola Sen, Congress’ Rajeev Satav, CPM’s KK Ragesh and Aam Admi Party’s Sanjay Singh.

After being suspended on Monday for the rest of the session, the MPs refused to leave the Rajya Sabha. Later, they left the floor of the Rajya Sabha and started their protest on the Parliament lawns, near Mahatma Gandhi’s statue, holding placards. The placards read: “Parliament assassinated” and “We will fight for the farmers”. Dola Sen held up a placard in Bengali which said “amra krishokder jonno lorbo“.

The MPs had with them pillows, blankets, mosquito repellents, and food sent from homes of fellow MPs. Derek O’Brien announced that this would be an indefinite protest. According to Sanjay Singh, the protests would continue till the government can explain why the bills were passed without required votes.

Many Opposition leaders went to the MPs to express solidarity. Among others were Congress leaders Digvijaya Singh and Ahmed Patel, former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and Samajwadi Party’s Jaya Bachchan.

On Tuesday morning, Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson Harivansh went to them to offer tea but the “tea diplomacy” was refused. Later, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “To personally serve tea to those who attacked and insulted him a few days ago as well as those sitting on Dharna shows that Shri Harivansh Ji has been blessed with a humble mind and a big heart. It shows his greatness. I join the people of India congratulating Harivansh Ji.”

The deputy chairperson has been accused by the Opposition of rushing through the farm bills in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday without following the Parliamentary procedure that allows voting, for the bills to be referred to a select committee for review. Neither were they allowed to be extended for discussion on Monday. The bills were passed with a voice vote without clearing the Opposition demand for a physical voting and a division of votes. Opposing this, some members climbed on to the secretary general’s table, displayed angrily the rulebook, and some tore copies of the bills while some others pulled out microphones.

Derek O’Brien denied tearing the rulebook, but said he wouldn’t regret it even if he had done it. He said: “We have been sent to the Parliament to speak for the poor, not to keep quiet when the very backbone of democracy is being killed.” Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Monday said that the Centre was running an autocratic “Hitler-like” government leading the nation to a crisis that is hitting the poor and there will be food scarcity.

However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has defended the farm bills saying that these are required for the “21st century India” and the Opposition was misleading the poor farmers because they “feared losing control”.

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