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8 Oppn MPs suspended in RS; hold indefinite sit-in inside Parl complex

New Delhi: Proceedings in the Rajya Sabha on Monday were disrupted several times before it was finally adjourned for the day amid strong protests over the suspension of eight Opposition MPs for their "unruly behaviour" during the passage of the Farm Bills. The eight members — Derek O'Brien and Dola Sen (TMC), Sanjay Singh of AAP, Congress leaders Rajeev Satav, Ripun Bora and Syed Nasir Hussain and KK Ragesh and Elamaram Kareem of the CPI(M), suspended for a week under Rule 256(2) — have been on an 'indefinite' protest near the Gandhi Statue in Parliament premises, stretching well into the night.

A number of non-NDA parties wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind over the manner in which the government "pushed through its agenda" and urged him not to grant his assent to the proposed legislations.

According to sources, leaders of various political parties including the Congress, the Left parties, NCP, DMK, SP, Trinamool Congress and the RJD have in a memorandum to the President sought his intervention in the matter and asked him not to sign the Bills. They will become a law only after the President grants his assent to them.

The two key farm Bills, dubbed by the government as the biggest reform in agriculture, were passed by the Rajya Sabha on Sunday with voice vote amid unprecedented unruly scenes by protesting Opposition MPs.

Some Opposition members, ignoring the COVID-19 protocol, charged towards the podium of Deputy Chairman Harivansh, flung the rule book at him and tore official papers.

They yanked his microphone and heckled him over their demand for a division of vote on their motion to refer the legislation to a select committee.

Sources said the Opposition parties have described the manner in which the Bills were passed in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday as "murder of democracy" by the ruling BJP. They have also sought time from the President for a meeting, likely on Tuesday.

A delegation of Shiromani Akali Dal leaders met President Kovind on Monday and asked him not to give his assent. "A delegation of Shiromani Akali Dal met the President and requested him not to sign on 'anti-farmer' Bills that have been forcefully passed in Rajya Sabha," the party's chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said, according to reports. "We requested him to send back the Bills to Parliament."

The proceedings of the House were almost washed out on Monday as it could not take up any legislative business.

After four adjournments earlier, when the Upper House resumed at 12 pm, Bhubaneswar Kalita, who was in the Chair drew the attention of the House to Rule 256 saying, "The Chairman may, if he deems it necessary, name a member who disregards the authority of the chair or abuses the rules of the Council by persistently and wilfully obstructing the business thereof" and mentioned Rule 256 (2) also.

"I want to draw your kind attention to these two rules ... I have to call the LoP (Leader of Opposition) to speak but before that I want the rule to be obeyed. I want honourable members who have been named to go out of the House so that honourable LoP can speak and I want order in the House," Kalita said urging the suspended members to leave.

However, despite several requests, the suspended MPs refused to leave the premises which prompted Kalita to remark: "Please go out of the House so that it can be run in an orderly manner."

However, with the eight members refusing to budge, the Chair adjourned the House for the day at 12.07 pm. Some of the members, however, had managed to raise issues during Zero Hour.

Earlier in the day, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu termed the behaviour of members during the passage of the Bills on Sunday as "very unfortunate, unacceptable and condemnable" and one that has "tarnished" the image of Parliament, particularly the House of Elders.

Eventually, the House saw three more adjournments as the suspended members remained present in the House and Opposition parties protested against the decision before adjournment for the day.

The Lok Sabha on Monday passed The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill whereby fresh insolvency proceedings will not be initiated at least for six months starting from March 25 amid the pandemic. The Bill was already passed in Rajya Sabha on Saturday.

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