‘A record India should not be proud of’: Editorials slam suspension of 141 Opposition MPs

From ‘bloodless coup’ to the Modi government’s ‘new hubris’, here’s what English newspapers said.

WrittenBy:NL Team
Suspended MPs protesting on the stairs of the Parliament.

It’s a questionable record for India with a total of 141 opposition MPs now suspended from Parliament. Ninety-five are from the Lok Sabha and 46 from the Rajya Sabha.

Since last week, opposition MPs have been protesting the security breach at the Lok Sabha, demanding a discussion and a statement during the ongoing winter session.

Instead, a mass suspension unfolded over the last few days, even as Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla insisted the suspensions were for “carrying placards and creating ruckus”.

The Hindu and Deccan Herald had published editorials yesterday when the suspensions stood at 78. Today, other newspapers joined the chorus in condemning what had happened.

The Indian Express carried an editorial headlined “Breach and stain”. It said the winter session was “defined in breach” – first the security breach and then a breach of the “very principles of India’s highest legislature and deliberative body, and the spirit of the Constitution that animates it”.

The suspensions “fly in the face” of Modi’s assurance that the new Parliament building reflects “the aspirations and dreams of 140 crore Indians”, Express said.

“The MPs suspended means the about five crore people they represent no longer have a voice in Parliament; this wounds the cardinal idea of representation, that they are all from the Opposition further salts that wound. It also sends a message to Assemblies, presiding officers, indeed, all ruling parties that you can rid the legislature of the Opposition – if you so wish.”

In an editorial headlined “An Opposition mukt House”, Hindustan Times called the suspensions a “record India should not be proud of” and a “poor advertisement for India’s parliamentary democracy”.

“The government even pushed through a handful of bills in the melee, without the necessary debate in the House, a disquieting trend that seems to define the current dispensation’s parliamentary strategy,” it said. “At the heart of parliamentary democracy is the culture of debate.”

While opposition MPs can be “needlessly provocative”, the editorial urged the Rajya Sabha chair and Lok Sabha speaker to “reason with both government and Opposition to return to House business in the proper manner expected of them by the citizens of this country”.

The Telegraph was more scathing. Describing the suspensions as a “bloodless coup”, its editorial said Parliament “mirrors Mr Modi’s New India where resistance against the government, be it by people or people’s representatives, is trampled upon”.

“The Opposition is being vilified by the powers that be for lowering the dignity of the House. But the dignity of the temple of democracy is not upheld by the Union home minister addressing concerns regarding Parliament’s security to the media but not to parliamentarians, nor by the weaponisation of the rhetoric of decorum by an authoritarian government that loses no opportunity to choke both dissent and defiance,” it said.

Deccan Chronicle identified a “pattern in the government’s response to critical national issues – to shun Parliament and shirk accountability”. The Modi government “steadfastly refused” to respond to the ethnic violence in Manipur and now a “new sense of hubris has enveloped the ruling alliance”.

“Mr Modi is on record advising the Opposition ahead of the Winter Session not to vent its desperation over the election loss in the House...It is time a government which vouches by the democratic traditions of the country behaves in a democratic manner, takes the Opposition and the people into confidence and address national concerns upfront,” it said.

Newslaundry had interviewed Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Manoj Jha, who is among those suspended. “When dictatorships are worried, they want streets without protests and a Parliament without Opposition,” he said. Watch the interview here.

Also see
article image‘Not a medal for Modi, but badge of honour for us’: RJD’s Manoj Jha on unprecedented suspensions


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