Congress MP Rahul Gandhi disqualified from Lok Sabha
By G Krishna Mohan Rao*
New Delhi: The Parliament’s Budget Session, which otherwise proved to be a complete washout for the last two weeks since it resumed after a break on March 13, 2023, today saw the disqualification of the Congress Party’s Member of Parliament (MP) Rahul Gandhi from Lok Sabha, and also the passing of the crucial Finance Bill 2023 amid protest.
In another major development, the Lok Sabha today passed the crucial Finance Bill 2023, which is the major legislative business of the Budget session of the Parliament, without any discussion.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman pushed the Finance Bill with 45 amendments amid a ruckus by the Opposition MPs demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the allegations against the Adani Group as raised by the United States-based Short Seller Hindenburg.
The sources in the Lok Sabha Secretariat said that the government’s rush to clear the essential legislative business indicates early closure of the Budget session as the logjam in Parliament showed no signs of ending. They said having been washed out for the last two weeks, the Parliament may not transact any business and it is likely to adjourn sine die anytime next week, either on Monday or Tuesday. Otherwise, the present Parliament Budget Session is scheduled to end by April 6, 2023.
Despite three meetings with all party leaders by Rajya Sabha chairman Jagdeep Dhankar as well as two meetings called by the Speaker could not find any consensus emerging to end the logjam in Parliament.
Keeping this in view on Thursday, March 23, 2023, the Speaker decided to go for a guillotine, a process that allows the Union Budget to be put to vote without any discussion.
In other words, the demands for grants of all the ministries were clubbed together and put to vote. Speaker Om Birla, yesterday evening, pushed the demands for grants amidst protest from the Opposition MPs from the well of the House. The Cut Motions/Amendments moved by the Opposition were also put to voice vote in one go and dismissed.
In fact, when the Government brought the legislative business yesterday evening, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the House. This was his first presence in the House after it resumed its sittings on March 13. Having seen the Prime Minister inside the House for the first time, the Opposition got wild and rushed into the well of the House and raised slogans of “ Modi- Adani bhai bhai” and “We want JPC“. In fact, the Opposition has been demanding a JPC since February 5, 2023, which is from the first part of the Budget Session.
While passing the Finance Bill 2023, the Finance Minister today called for setting up a committee under the Finance Secretary to look into the issue of the National Pension Scheme for Central and State Government employees.
Whether or not it is a sheer coincidence, soon after the passing of the Finance Bill, the Lok Sabha Secretariat announced the disqualification of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi as a Member of Parliament under the Representation of the People Act following his conviction in a criminal defamation case by the Surat court.
With this, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party took the ongoing confrontation right into the Congress-led Opposition camp. The provocation of Rahul’s disqualification by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla may further aggravate the ongoing confrontation between the Opposition and the treasury benches.
It may be recalled that ever since the resumption of the second part of the Budget session, the Parliament has been witnessing uproarious scenes, with the result no business has been transacted so far. The ruling BJP and the Opposition were at confrontation with the treasury bench demanding an apology from Rahul Gandhi for his remarks on Indian democracy and the Opposition demanding a JPC to probe into the Adani row.
The Congress today made it clear that there is no question of Rahul Gandhi apologising. Describing Rahul’s disqualification from Lok Sabh, as a political vendetta, the Congress Party made it clear that it will fight back politically as well as legally. The party said that the BJP got into panic mode after Rahul Gandhi’s success with his Bharat Jodo Yatra. The terror tactics of the BJP will be confronted with equal gusto, the Congress said adding that ever since Rahul raised the Adani issue, the BJP started to conspire against him.
Meanwhile, there is overwhelming support gained for Rahul Gandhi from the entire Opposition parties on the disqualification issue. Even anti-Congress Opposition parties like the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), the Trinamool Congress (TMC), and the Samajwadi Party (SP) condemned the disqualification and raised their voice against the ruling BJP alleging that it is not only intimidating the Opposition but also trying to finish the Opposition by adopting all kinds of methods.
In another development, the Opposition also wrote to Prime Minister Modi on the ‘misuse’ of Central Agencies against the Opposition. In all 14 political parties led by the Congress Party approached the Supreme Court to protest the ‘ arbitrary use of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation ( CBI) against Opposition leaders. Senior advocate and Congress MP, Abhishek Singhvi represented the 14 political parties, which also includes the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)among others.