The Congress has refused to nominate any party member to a proposed committee being set up to inquire into the commotion that took place during the last day of the Monsoon Session of Parliament on August 11, The Hindu reported on Thursday.
“It will not only suppress the voices of people’s representatives but will deliberately brush aside all those that are uncomfortable to the government,” Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said in a letter to M Venkaiah Naidu, the chairperson of the Upper House.
On August 11, chaos had erupted in Rajya Sabha with the Opposition MPs storming into the well of the House and shouting slogans against the government.
Security staff were deployed in huge numbers in the House to prevent a repeat of similar events that had unfolded on August 10 in Parliament, during which several Opposition MPs had climbed atop tables and thrown papers, demanding that the Centre withdraw the farm laws.
Security was deployed in a cross-gendered manner – male marshals were positioned near women MPs and female officers were near the male legislators. The Congress had alleged that women MPs were manhandled by the marshals.
The Opposition had also alleged that outsiders “who were not part of Parliament security” were brought inside to manhandle the MPs.
On August 12, seven Union ministers held a press conference to counter the accusations levelled by the Opposition MPs. Union Textiles Minister Piyush Goyal had claimed that it was the Opposition MPs who manhandled the marshals, including a woman officer.
Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were adjourned sine die (with no appointed date for resumption), two days ahead of the scheduled end of the Monsoon session on August 13.
In his letter to Naidu, Kharge said that he was “unequivocally” against the formation of the inquiry committee and that it seemed to be designed to intimidate MPs into silence.
On the proceedings of Parliament, Kharge told Naidu that the Congress and the Opposition parties were willing to discuss all matters of public importance and had given notices to hold debates on rise in fuel prices, farmers’ protest, the economy, inflation, the India-China border standoff and the Pegasus spyware row.
“We did so in sincere belief that the government of India is committed to transparency and needed to be forthright to the nation about these issues,” he wrote.
Kharge said that the Union government not only declined the demand for discussion but also rushed through important bills and policies that could potentially have a grave and adverse effect on the country, according to the Hindustan Times.
“Additionally, senior ministers were largely absent from Parliament while Opposition MPs were suspended,” the letter said. “In doing so, the government undermined the sovereignty of Parliament.”
The Congress leader said that it was up to the government to create a conducive environment to hold discussions in Parliament.
“Parliament has had a history of similar protests, many initiated by the ruling dispensation when it was in the Opposition,” he said. “As you are well aware that many from the ruling party have in past posited that expressing dissent in this manner is acceptable in a parliamentary democracy.”
Kharge also told The Hindu that the matter can be discussed at an all-party meeting ahead of the Winter session.