NEW DELHI -- Following two weeks of paralysis in parliament, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan today suspended over half of the Congress Party lawmakers, who have been demanding resignations of three senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, while shouting slogans and carrying placards in the lower house of parliament.
Over the course of the Monsoon Session, Mahajan had repeatedly asked Opposition members not to carry placards in the Lok Sabha, but as they persisted with shouting and protesting in the lower house on Monday, the beleaguered speaker suspended 25 out of 44 Congress Party lawmakers.
Defending her action, Mahajan said that she had called an all-party meeting to request lawmakers to stop carrying placards, but they have consistenly defied her. "This message is for everyone to go by the rules," she told the media after Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day.
Reacting to the mass suspension for five days, Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi said that it is a "black day for democracy."
The Congress Party plans to boycott the Lok Sabha for the next five days. Several other parties including All India Trinamool Congress (TMC), the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Janata Dal (U) have also decided to join the boycott to show their solidarity.
This will be colossal waste of time since the Monsoon Session, which commenced on July 21, will conclude on August 13. So far, every single day of the session has been wasted. But the Congress Party and Left parties have vowed to block parliament until the three senior BJP leaders, embroiled in the Lalit Modi scandal and the Vyapam scam, resign.
They have demanded resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje for helping cricket magnate Lalit Modi, a fugitive, who is being investigated by Indian agencies for money laundering and financial irregularities connected with the Indian Premier League tournament.
The Opposition has also asked Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to step down over the Vyapam scam.
Ruling out their resignations, the BJP has offered to debate all these controversies in parliament. The ruling party has also attempted to weaken the Congress Party's position by isolating it within the Opposition.
But with crucial bills pending in parliament for the Modi government, and time running out for this session, the BJP called for an all-party meet on Monday to find a way out of the logjam.
A resolution seems unlikely as both sides are digging in their heels. The meeting ended on Monday afternoon without any breakthrough.
Earlier in the day, the Congress Party president attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his "maun vrat" over recent controversies to hit BJP. "Champion of 'Mann Ki Baat' has retreated into the maun vrat," she said at the Congress Parliamentary Party meet today.