India’s colorful and chaotic politics saw a parliamentary first Tuesday, with the ruling Congress party recommending the suspension of eight of its own members of parliament for four days after they repeatedly disrupted the house over the issue of the creation of a new state of Telangana.
Significantly, the decision to suspend the MPs was taken by none other than party President Sonia Gandhi herself at a hurriedly convened meeting of the Congress core committee. The move came after the suspended MPs refused to allow the second half of parliament’s budget session to function normally. The Lok Sabha passed the motion to suspend the MPs by a voice vote after an intense debate.
In between the adjournments, Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee consulted main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj and heads of other parties to determine how the rebellious MPs should be dealt with. The Congress wanted to suspend the eight lawmakers for the rest of the budget session to set an example, but CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta firmly opposed such a “harsh” punishment, suggesting that the suspension should only be for four days.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
However, the decision has created problems for both the BJP and the Congress. BJP leaders were dismayed over Swaraj’s decision as the party has been openly supported the idea of forming an independent state of Telangana to be carved out of Andhra Pradesh. The trouble for the Congress comes from its key ally, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), whose chief Sharad Pawar objected to the suspension because the NCP allegedly wasn’t informed over the issue ahead of time. A livid Pawar is understood to have argued that the move sends the wrong message about how the United Progressive Alliance government functions.
Still, whatever reservations party leaders may have had, Tuesday’s events have actually boosted the parliament’s image, showing that the government and opposition can work together in the larger cause of ensuring government runs smoothly.