Sonia Gandhi On Suspension Of 141 MPs

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'No Words To Describe Arrogance': Sonia Gandhi's Retort On MPs' Suspension

Sonia Gandhi described the passing of Women’s Reservation Bill with a rider as “eyewash”

New Delhi:

In a scathing response to the suspension of 141 Opposition MPs, Congress leader Sonia Gandhi said “democracy has been strangulated by this government” for raising a “perfectly reasonable and legitimate demand”.

“Democracy has been strangulated by this government. Never before have so many Opposition Members of Parliament been suspended from the house, and that too, simply for raising a perfectly reasonable and legitimate demand,” Mrs Gandhi said at the Congress Parliamentary Party today.

She said the Opposition MPs had only asked for a statement by the Home Minister on the “extraordinary events” of December 13, when two intruders trespassed into the Lok Sabha chamber and set off coloured smoke in a massive security breach. “There are no words to describe the arrogance with which this request was treated,” she said.

A total of 141 Opposition MPs from the two Houses have been suspended over the past week after they held protests demanding the Home Minister’s statement. Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has maintained that security in the House comes under the purview of the secretariat and that he will not let the government intervene in the matter.

Mrs Gandhi said that the events that took place on December 13 are “inexcusable and cannot be justified”. “It took four days for the Prime Minister to address the nation and express his views on the incident, and he did so outside of the Parliament. By so doing, he clearly indicated his disdain for the dignity of the house and his disregard for the people of our country. I leave it to you to imagine how the BJP would have responded had they been in opposition today,” she said.

In his first remarks on the security breach, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Dainik Jagran newspaper that it was a “very serious” incident and that it needs to be investigated. He added that there is “no need for a debate” on the subject.

Referring to the passage of key legislation relating to Jammu and Kashmir, Mrs Gandhi said, “Those who distort history and twist historical facts just to defame great patriots like Jawaharlal Nehru have been running a relentless campaign. In these efforts, the Prime Minister and the Home Minister have taken the lead themselves, but we will not be intimidated or cowed down. We will persist in telling the truth.”

“Our position on Jammu & Kashmir has been clear and consistent: Full statehood must be restored immediately, and elections must be held at the earliest. The aspirations of the people of Ladakh are equally important, they must be addressed and shown the respect they deserve,” she added.

She described the passing of the Women’s Reservation Bill with a rider as “an eyewash intended to mislead women and garner their votes while reneging on that which is rightfully owed to them”. “It is our firm belief that reservation for women must be implemented immediately and it should cover women belonging to all communities including the OBC community,” she said.

Mrs Gandhi congratulated Congress workers for the thumping victory in Telangana polls and said the party must strive to live up to the people’s trust. On the poll setbacks in the heartland, she said, “To say that the assembly election results in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have been very disappointing for our party is an understatement. The Congress President has already had a first round of reviews to understand the reasons for our poor performance and draw the needed lessons for our organization.”

“We are facing enormous challenges, yet I am confident that our fortitude and resilience will see us through. Our ideology and our values are our guiding light at this difficult time. We must never forget that our leaders fought against insurmountable odds, with great courage and fortitude, to give us our freedom,” she said.

The BJP government, she alleged, has conducted a “systematic assault on democracy and the institutions that are its essential pillars, including Parliament”.

“Diversity has been the strength that has distinguished India among the nations of the world. We have always been proud of the manner in which diverse religions, castes and ethnicities have co-existed and participated in building our beautiful nation. However, the actions of this government and the BJP have methodically weakened the very spirit of this unity. The Constitution of the Republic of India is under attack. Economic inequalities are widening. There is a significant gap between the Prime Minister’s boasts about economic growth and the ground reality,” she said.

Mrs Gandhi also thanked Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge for his leadership over the past year. “My thanks also go out to our CPP office bearers for all their hard work and support. I am also grateful to all our colleagues and workers for campaigning tirelessly for the recent assembly elections. We must channel our disappointment into a positive drive for the coming general elections,” she said.

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