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Indian opposition condemns Modi government after 141 lawmakers suspended

MPs were barred from both houses after the opposition demanded a debate on last week’s attack on parliament

Indian opposition leaders have hit out at the government after 141 lawmakers were suspended following a brawl in parliament over a major recent security breach. In the past week, 95 MPs have been barred from the lower house (Lok Sabha), while 46 have been suspended from the upper house (Rajya Sabha).

Opposition parties have demanded a debate and a statement from Home Minister Amit Shah regarding last week’s attack on India’s new parliament complex, during which two intruders opened gas canisters inside the house. 

The “mastermind” of the attack later surrendered, and a total of six people have been charged under India’s Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The Home Ministry is also investigating the breach. The attack was carried out on December 13, the anniversary of a 2001 assault on parliament that left nine people dead and dozens injured.

READ MORE: ‘Mastermind’ behind Indian Parliament attack surrenders to police

According to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, opposition lawmakers were suspended for “carrying placards and creating ruckus.” In a letter to MPs, cited by India Today, he said it was unfortunate that the suspension of some MPs was linked to the initial attack on parliament. “The suspension of the members is purely to uphold the sanctity of the House,” Birla said. “We are well aware that the people of our country do not appreciate the inappropriate conduct and interruptions during the proceedings of the House.”

Opposition leaders have alleged that the suspensions were orchestrated so that important bills could be passed without “meaningful debate.” The opposition coalition bloc – the Indian National Developmental, Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) – has announced a nationwide protest on December 22 against the suspensions.

Congress leader Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday suggested “democracy has been strangulated” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. “Never before have so many opposition members of parliament been suspended from the House, and that too, simply for raising a perfectly reasonable and legitimate demand,” Gandhi said at a party meeting. She also criticized Modi for taking four days to comment on the breach, and for doing so “outside of the parliament.”

Modi commented on the December 13 incident in an interview with Hindi daily Dainik Jagran, published on Sunday. Modi, who will seek a third term as prime minister in next year’s general elections, described the security breach as a “very serious” incident that must be investigated.

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December 20, 2023 at 03:56PM

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