The Opposition has described the suspension as undemocratic and in violation of all the Rules of Procedure of the Upper House of Parliament
New Delhi: Leaders of over a dozen opposition parties took out a protest march on Tuesday in support of their demand for revoking the suspension of 12 Rajya Sabha MPs and pledged to carry on their fight unitedly.
Accusing the government of suppressing the voice of the Opposition, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge, DMK's Tiruchi Siva and Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut along with other members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha walked from the Mahatama Gandhi statue in the Parliament complex to Vijay Chowk while holding banners and placards.
The opposition members, including from the TMC, Samajwadi Party, CPI, CPI-M, IUML, TRS, RJD and the NCP as well as some smaller parties, pledged that they will not relent and will continue their fight unitedly till the suspensions are revoked.
Asserting that the suspended MPs did no wrong, the leaders said they will not apologise or bow before the government and will continue to raise the issues of the people to save democracy and the Constitution.
Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi alleged that the Opposition is not being allowed to raise issues in Parliament which, he said, is now "merely a building and a museum".
"Wherever the Opposition is trying to raise issues, they are suppressed. The government does not allow us to raise issues. This is a murder of democracy," he told reporters.
Gandhi also said the prime minister does not come to Parliament and "this is not the way to run a democracy".
"We have here our suspended members. This is a symbol of the crushing of the voice of the people of India. They have been suspended now for two weeks. They are sitting outside. Their voice has been crushed. They have done nothing wrong.
"We are not allowed to debate things in Parliament. Bill after bill, bill after bill is just passed in the din. This is not the way to run Parliament," he said.
The 12 Opposition MPs were suspended from Rajya Sabha on November 29 for the entire Winter session of Parliament for their "unruly" conduct in the previous session in August.
The Opposition has described the suspension as "undemocratic and in violation of all the Rules of Procedure" of the Upper House of Parliament.
Gandhi said the suspended MPs have not been removed by the Rajya Sabha chairman or the prime minister, but the forces who want to steal from farmers.
"The prime minister and the Chairman are implementers. It is the power of industrialists, others are mere masks," he alleged.
He cited the example of the prime minister taking a bath in river Ganga during his Varanasi visit on Monday, saying these forces who want to steal the income of farmers and want to capture the media say that no one's face except the PMs will be shown.
Asked whether the Lakhimpur issue will be raised in Parliament, Gandhi said, "We will try and raise the Lakhimpur issue in Parliament. But these four people - 'Hum do, hamare do' will not allow us to do so."
"There will be no discussion on China, Lakhimpur Kheri, farmers. What is the use of this? It is of no use. This is only a building. It is a museum now," he said while pointing towards Parliament House.
DMK leader Tiruchi Siva said the government's stand on the issue is "totally unconventional, unprecedented".
"If something has happened, there has been flexibility in the past but now rigidity is seen," he said.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said it is the "sacrifice" of the MPs towards the farmers' agitation.
"The government is not even ready to listen to us. We want to save democracy and want justice, but the government does not want to hear the words democracy and justice.
"We have never seen such days in our democracy when the opposition is suppressed. We will continue our fight, but will never bow down or be afraid. This is our message of unity," he told reporters.
TMC's Dola Sen, who is among the suspended MPs, said the opposition is supposed to raise the voice of the people.
"The Modi government does not allow us to raise our voice and is passing bills within minutes. Our only option left is to raise our voice in the Well of the house. We are fulfilling our duty.
"They have suspended members previously also. We condemn them for suspending us. They may suspend us many times, we will raise the voice of people, farmers to save the Constitution and democracy," she said.
Elamaram Kareem of CPI-M said they will "'repeat" their "crime" inside and outside the house and claimed that the Modi government, which has "surrendered" before the farmers, will be compelled to "surrender" to the people's agitation raised by opposition parties
Vishambhar Prasad Nishad of Samajwadi Party alleged that there is an "undeclared emergency" in the entire country and the government is running away from issues like price rise.
Manoj Kumar Jha of RJD said they were not fighting for their personal ego but for the dignity of democracy and parliament.
"We have seen majorities earlier too, but this government has the pride of a brute majority and there is no compassion. Parliament is not run with brute majoritarian regimes," he said.
He also attacked the chair. "This is a long battle, we are not just fighting for revoking the suspensions but for restoration of parliamentary traditions."
Vandana Chavan of the NCP said it is the responsibility of the government to listen to the opposition and it is the responsibility of the opposition to raise issues of the people in the house.
"We will not allow the house to run till the suspensions are taken back," she also said.
Binoy Viswam of CPI said the whole world is watching the happenings in India and the government is trying to suppress the voice of dissent.
"We stand together and this unity is going to decide the country's future. We will march together hand in hand," he said.
Opposition parties have been stalling proceedings in Rajya Sabha over the issue. The government has insisted that the suspended members apologise for their unruly conduct.