The overnight sit-in protest by eight suspended Rajya Sabha MPs at Parliament premises continued on Tuesday as they sat on the lawn outside outside with Parliament complex with signs that that read - “We will fight for farmers” and “parliament assassinated”.
On Tuesday morning, the MPs rebuffed Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh’s offer of tea, NDTVreported.
Meanwhile, the Congress announced a massive people’s movement which would include protest marches, agitations and collecting two crore farmers’ signatures for a memorandum against the legislations to be submitted to President Ram Nath Kovind.
The MPs protests outside Parliament had received the support of a large number of opposition leaders.
To show solidarity with their protesting colleagues, senior opposition leaders came in hordes including NC leader Faroukh Abdullah, JD(S)′ Deve Gowda, Samajwadi Party’s Jaya Bachchan, Congress’ Ahmed Patel and NCP’s Praful Patel.
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh sat with the protesting parliamentarians for almost four hours, one of the suspended MPs told PTI as they sang patriotic songs, surrounded by placards hanging on strings with slogans in support of farmers.
“This is the first time ever that a peaceful overnight protest in front of Gandhi statue in Parliament has happened,” protesting TMC MP Dola Sen said.
“This is also the first time that members were openly robbed of their right as MPs to ask for a division (not just a voice vote),” she said.
One of the main concerns for the MPs was the health of two senior leaders who are diabetic ― Congress’ Ripun Boren and CPIM’s Elamaram Kareem, who are both over 65 years of age.
“We are making sure that we are all hydrated and we have enough water,” TMC MP Derek O’brien said.
“Refreshments are also coming in from the homes of Opposition MPs at regular intervals to ensure that their sugar levels don’t drop. It’s a wonderful team effort and we are not going to stop,” another senior leader said.
An ambulance was also on standby for emergency use in case any of the protestors fall ill.
The protesting MPs carried beddings with pillows and blankets and mosquito repellents.
“We would like the government to know that this is an indefinite protest,” O’Brien said.
AAP’s Sanjay Singh said, “We will continue protesting against the farmer bills until the Modi government provides a rationale behind passing these bills without having the required votes”.
Old timers said this is the first time in the history of Parliament that an overnight protest has been held on its premises. However, overnight protests have been held in Assemblies, senior leaders said.
Earlier on Monday, the government moved a motion seeking the suspension of Derek O’Brien (TMC), Sanjay Singh (AAP), Rajeev Satav (Congress), K K Ragesh (CPI-M), Syed Nazir Hussain (Congress), Ripun Boren (Congress), Dola Sen (TMC) and Elamaram Kareem (CPI-M).
The motion was adopted by voice vote amid protests.
During the day, the protests saw MPs from various parties like Congress, CPI(M), Shiv Sena, JDS, TMC, CPI and the Samajwadi Party joining in. In the evening, many Lok Sabha MPs trickled in to show their support to the suspended MPs who were sitting in protest.
Other leaders who came by include Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut, NCP’s Supriya Sule, DMK’s Kanimozhi and Tiruchi Siva, who carried hot idlis for the protestors from his residence.
The protest by the MPs is being held at a time when around 30 parliamentarians have tested positive for the coronavirus disease.
Former Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot condemned the suspension of eight Rajya Sabha MPs, the Congress leader said it was symbolic of dictatorship.
“After passing the bills in the Rajya Sabha in an undemocratic manner, the decision to suspend 8 Rajya Sabha MPs today is a symbol of utter dictatorship,” Pilot tweeted in Hindi.
“Our parliamentary traditions were not like this. Rather they have been respectful of deliberation, consent and disagreement,” he said.
(With PTI inputs)