Defending the Congress MPs who were suspended from the Lok Sabha on Thursday for the remaining period of the Budget session for their “gross misconduct”, Leader of the party in the lower house Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Friday said a pickpocket cannot be sent to the gallows as he argued that the suspension of seven Congress members from the House was "disproportionate" and should be revoked.
Underlining that Congress members regard the Chair as "the Pope of the Vatican", Chowdhury said they had never dishonoured the chair. Questioning on what basis the seven Congress members were suspended, Chowdhury said, "Jeb katua ko phansi ke takhte pe nahi chadaya ja sakta hai (a pickpocket cannot be sent to the gallows)" and demanded that the suspension be revoked.
Chowdhury's remarks drew sharp criticism from Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said, "It is strange to compare the suspended MPs with pickpockets. It is most unfortunate. We don't agree with this." Justifying the action against Congress MPs, Joshi said the snatching papers from the Chair had never happened in the House in its history of more than 70 years.
Referring to incidents when the BJP was in the Opposition, Joshi said then Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha L K Advani always stopped them from doing anything which did not suit the dignity of the house. He also said in 15th Lok Sabha, the then Speaker had suspended 45 MPs of the BJP. The House had witnessed uproarious scenes since the Budget Session began on March 2 as the Opposition repeatedly demanded a discussion on the Delhi violence that claimed at least 53 lives.
During a discussion on the coronavirus outbreak on Thursday, an RLP member made some controversial remarks against Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her family members triggering a strong reaction from Congress members. While protesting the remarks, Congress member Gaurav Gogoi pulled papers from the Speaker's table and flung them in the air. Gogoi and six other members were suspended from the House for the remainder of the Budget Session. The suspended members are Gaurav Gogoi, TN Prathapan, Dean Kuriakose, Manicka Tagore, Rajmohan Unnithan, Benny Behanan and Gurjeet Singh Aujla.
(With PTI inputs)