By Nigam Prusty
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – At least 79 opposition lawmakers were suspended from the Indian parliament on Monday for disrupting proceedings as they demanded a government statement and a discussion on the security breach of the chambers last week.
The suspensions followed similar taken action against 14 lawmakers last week.
Although disruptions and protests are not unusual in parliament, the total of 93 suspensions is the highest during a single session for years according to analysts, indicating that the legislature is getting tougher on unruly conduct.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has 290 lawmakers in the lower house of 543 seats.
Monday’s decisions of the presiding officers of the upper and lower house to suspend the lawmakers were broadcast on parliament’s TV channel.
The protesting opposition lawmakers were shown gathering in front of the presiding officer in the upper house and shouting slogans. Similar scenes were also witnessed in the lower house.
Police filed terrorism charges against five people in connection with a security breach in the new parliament complex after a man jumped into the lower house, shouted slogans and set off a smoke canister on Dec. 13
The speaker of the lower house has said that security is his responsibility and is conducting a review. The federal home ministry is also investigating the breach.
Opposition lawmakers, however, want a debate and a statement on the issue from Home Minister Amit Shah.
Modi, in an interview with a Hindi-language newspaper, said what had happened was very serious and there should be a detailed investigation into it, but “there was no need to debate this”.
Opposition lawmakers said the government was behaving in a dictatorial manner.
“First, intruders attacked Parliament. Then Modi govt is attacking parliament & democracy,” Mallikarjun Kharge, president of the main opposition Congress party, on Monday said on X, formerly Twitter.
“With an opposition-less parliament, the Modi govt can now bulldoze important pending legislations, crush any dissent, without any debate.”
(Writing by Rupam Jain, Editing by YP Rajesh and Ed Osmond)