Monday, August 03, 2015

Following Gujarat "model"?: MPs' maiden suspension "preceded" two dozen similar incidents in Gujarat under Modi

By Our Representative
While the suspension of 25 members of Parliament (MPs) for creating “ruckus” in the Lok Sabha may have created a flutter in Delhi among political observers, those who are in Gujarat are not surprised. In fact, the event is being described as nothing but Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking to follow the so-called Gujarat model.
An official compilation by the Gujarat state assembly suggests this: Between 2003, after Modi won his first electoral victory riding on the Hindutva wave in the wake of the 2002 communal riots, and 2015, that on as many as 30 occasions the state’s Congress law makers were suspended. In fact, on several occasions, all Congress MLAs were suspended.  Of these, two dozen suspensions took place till Modi was in power in Gujarat up to May 2014.
Not that ways of suspending MLAs was anything new for Modi. It had also taken place in 1996-97, when BJP rebel leader, and now Congress leader, Shankarsinh Vaghela’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) ruled. Under Vaghela’s directions, as chief minister of Gujarat, BJP MLAs were suspended from the assembly on several occasions.  It continued under BJP 1998-2001 under Keshubhai Patel's chief ministership, till Modi replaced him in October 2001.
Inheriting his ex-mentor Vaghela’s ways, Modi followed suit to pass crucial bills in the state assembly without any discussion, such as the controversial Gujarat Lokayukta Bill in 2013. The Bill had sought to displace the Gujarat High Court chief justice with the chief minister as chairman of the five-person selection committee, virtually putting the anti-corruption watchdog directly in the lap of the ruling establishment.
Then governor Kamla Beniwal, just a month earlier, on September 3, had returned the bill, passed by the assembly on April 2, to the government for reconsideration, dubbing the legislation as "complete mockery of the judicial process and detrimental to the interests of public welfare". The protesting opposition MLAs were suspended from the assembly for unruly scenes.There were occasions when not one but as many as five bills were passed in the assembly without discussion, as Congress MLAs stood suspended.
Causes for which Congress MLAs – sometimes all, and on other times several of them – were suspended included demanding discussion on major issues, including such events like a major tragedy leading to the death of several persons on consumption of spurious liquor in 2009. When Congress MLAs demanded discussion on the issue in the assembly session in July 2009, 14 Congress MLAs were suspended for a day.
The latest suspension of 25 MPs from the Lok Sabha has been described as a “black day for democracy” by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, with even party MP from Kerala Shashi Tharoor – who was found to be moving away from her – protested saying that “many leaders will face some real difficulties in participating with the government and the committees of Parliament as long as the ‘discriminatory attitude’ against the opposition continues.”
“It is wrong. In fact, many of us will have some real difficulties in participating with the government and committees of Parliament as long as this discriminatory attitude continues against the opposition,” said Tharoor, adding, “The government should be reaching out to the opposition rather than throwing it out of the House.”
Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan, while suspending more than half of the Congress MPs for carrying placards and shouting slogans demanding the resignation of top BJP leaders over the Lalit Modi controversy and the Vyapam scam, said she took the step for for "persistently, wilfully obstructing the House".
"Like in Gujarat where opposition members used to get suspended, similar thing is happening here. It is the Gujarat model which is being implemented," Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, told reporters after a day of ruckus in Parliament.

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