Rajya Sabha dy chairman offers tea to protesting MPs; Narendra Modi says gesture shows his 'big heart'

The suspended parliamentarians spent the night in the lawns near Mahatma Gandhi's statue, a first such overnight protest in the Parliament complex, old-timers said

Press Trust of India September 22, 2020 10:47:59 IST
Rajya Sabha dy chairman offers tea to protesting MPs; Narendra Modi says gesture shows his 'big heart'

Rajya Sabha deputy chairman Harivansh with protesting MPs. ANI

New Delhi: The sit-in protest by eight suspended MPs on Parliament premises continued for the second day on Tuesday, with Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh Singh offering them tea in the morning.

The suspended parliamentarians spent the night in the lawns near Mahatma Gandhi's statue, a first such overnight protest in the Parliament complex, old-timers said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Harivansh Singh's gesture was proof of his greatness.

AAP's Sanjay Singh tweeted a picture from the protest site in the morning, saying the "whole night was spent under the open sky in front of Bapu's statue". "The protest in favour of farmers' rights is continuing," he added.

The RS deputy chairman, the leaders said, came in bright and early with a posse of news cameras and was told by a senior MP to visit them without the cameras and sit with them.

"Another senior MP also told him that while bringing tea was a nice gesture, he was still in the wrong in what he did. He was told that he was the one who broke the rules," a protesting MP told PTI.

Several leaders said they did not accept the tea and snacks offered by the deputy chairman. "I did not have the tea brought by him," Sanjay Singh said.

Harivansh Singh has been in the thick of things since the suspension drama unfolded. The eight MPs were suspended for the remaining part of the current session over their "misbehavior" with the deputy chairman during the passage of the farm Bills on Sunday.

The Monsoon Session is scheduled to end on 1 October. However, the session is likely to be curtailed with several MPs testing positive for COVID-19.

Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu said Deputy Chairman Harivansh, an MP from Bihar, was physically threatened by opposition MPs on Sunday.

Naidu also rejected a notice for a no-confidence motion against the deputy chairman as it was not in proper format and a 14-day notice period was not given.

Opposition parties have hit out at the government over the suspension of the Rajya Sabha MPs, with the Congress terming it "undemocratic" and "one-sided".

The suspended MPs have vowed to continue their protest and are even likely to demand that they be allowed to attend the session.

"The deputy chairman came to meet us at the dharna site in the morning. We also told him that the anti-farmer Bill was passed keeping law and order at stake, it was passed without voting knowing that the BJP was in minority and you are also responsible for it," Sanjay Singh said.

"Farmers have been cheated. We kept asking for proper voting and we were ignored completely. This is not the time to make friends but to fight for the rights of farmers, and we sat here the whole night to protest against the anti-farmer Bills," he added.

Four of the eight suspended Upper House members had moved resolutions opposing some key Bills that appear in the Rajya Sabha List of Business announced for Tuesday. These four MPs are Derek O'Brien (TMC), Rajeev Satav (Congress), Elamaram Kareem (CPM) and K K Ragesh (CPM).

Since they are suspended, their names don't figure in the list.

The four other suspended members are Sanjay Singh (AAP), Syed Nazir Hussain (Congress), Ripun Boren (Congress) and Dola Sen (TMC).

On Monday, after the suspension of the MPs, they launched an indefinite strike, prepared to sit in all night with blankets, pillows and mosquito repellents.

Opposition MPs had brought them refreshments and snacks.

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