Expunction Row: BJP Establishing Authoritarian Dominance in Parliament, Says Congress

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NEW DELHI – The Congress on Sunday termed expunction of part of speech of party leader Rahul Gandhi in the Lok Sabha, party chief and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and suspension of Congress member Rajani Patil “autocratic” and “dictatorial” moves by the ruling BJP.

Addressing a press conference, senior Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said: “Expunction is not justified by any reading of the relevant Rules, like Rule 380 qua the Lok Sabha and similar Rules in the Rajya Sabha dealing with expunction. None of the tests therein are even applicable, much less met.

“This government’s and the ruling party’s approach show that this is the most curb, control and command freak sarkar in the history of this nation.”

Singhvi said: “The autocratic and dictatorial face of the BJP and the ruling dispensation was in full show in each House of Parliament in the brazenly undemocratic and unparliamentary expunction of several of Rahul Gandhi’s remarks in the Lok Sabha, excision of remarks of LOP in Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge and suspension of Ms Rajani Patil from the Rajya Sabha.”

Claiming that the BJP government is moving towards establishing an authoritarian dominance in the Parliament by “terrifying, terrorising, tormenting, and tyrannising the opposition”, he said that the ruling party does not want the parliament to run through “consensus, collaboration, and concordance”, but through “clash, chaos, and conflict”.

Defending the speeches of Kharge and Gandhi, Singhvi said: “Not a word stated therein justifies the use of the power of expunction. You can ask for the text if not already with you and see that there is no use of unparliamentary language, no expletive, no debasement of any institution, no objectionable or abusive word or phrase.

“There is absolutely nothing which is remotely defamatory or indecent or unparliamentary or undignified in those addresses. Rahul Gandhi and Kharge spoke extremely politely and respectfully and based their addresses on factual narratives. It is amusing and supremely ironical to note that expunged portions even include questions asked!” he added

Sinhvi said the Speaker and the Chairperson of the two respective Houses are constitutional office holders and the custodians and defenders of freedom of speech inside the Houses which is a fundamental pillar of Indian democracy.

“Without their robust shield, the spirit of healthy parliamentary discussion and debate will perish. Freedom of speech is the foundation of our Constitution and even more so within the legislature. Each one of us has to defend the right to free speech on the floor of the two Houses. If the two Houses cease to be a space for free speech, then we will no longer be able to call ourselves a democracy. Unless free, frank and fearless discussion is allowed to take place within the two Houses of Parliament, democracy is fundamentally and irreversibly imperiled. Parliament can hardly remain the grand inquest of the nation if free speech leading to fearless discussion is throttled.” -IANS

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