DMK’s Kanimozhi After 15 MPs Suspended

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Kanimozhi is the DMK’s Lok Sabha MP from Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukkudi constituency (File).

New Delhi:

DMK MP Kanimozhi – one of 15 opposition leaders suspended this afternoon for the rest of the Parliament’s Winter Session amid protests over Wednesday’s security breach – has criticised the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party over double-standards in holding parliamentarians to account. 

Speaking to NDTV, she highlighted the lack of action against Prathap Simha – the BJP MP whose office issued passes to the two men who smoke-bombed the Lok Sabha – after the Trinamool Congress’ Mahua Moitra was expelled from the House over unproven corruption allegations.

“I don’t know how asking for an explanation (from the government on how yesterday’s security breach occurred) us ‘unruly conduct’. They suspended 15 of us but the MP who issued the passes is still in Parliament… he has not been suspended, or even called for an inquiry,” she said.

“The goverment says ‘national security’ and disqualifies a Trinamool MP (Ms Moitra) but someone who allowed the men into the Lok Sabha is still sitting there… and we have been thrown out.”

“Does the BJP understand what democracy means?” Ms Kanimozhi asked.

READ | 15 Opposition MPs Suspended For Disrupting House Proceedings

Parliament resumed this morning but both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were immediately and repeatedly adjourned after protests from opposition lawmakers who demanded either Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Union Home Minister Amit Shah make a statement on the smoke attack.

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Both Houses refused this demand; Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, whose office is responsible for security in Parliament, and Rajya Sabha Chair Jagdeep Dhankhar made statements assuring MPs of a thorough investigation, which began this morning with eight Delhi Police officials being suspended.

However, opposition MPs remained steadfast in their demand and dozens of adjournment notices were moved; over two dozen were tabled in the Rajya Sabha alone, news agency PTI reported.

All, though, were discarded. “Yes, all notices were denied. We were asking either the Home Minister or the Prime Minister to come and tell us what happened… to explain how this security breach happened. Parliament is supposed to be a safe place and the entire cabinet, including the Prime Minister, comes to Parliament. If this place is not going to be safe, it raises a lot of questions.”

“We were asking them to explain but nobody came… nobody explained,” she said.

As the chaos continued, 14 members of the Lok Sabha, including Ms Kanimozhi, and Derek O’Brien, a Trinamool MP in the Rajya Sabha, were barred from Parliament for the rest of this session, which is the last full sitting, except for February’s vote-on-account, before next year’s general election.

Nine of the 14 suspended Lok Sabha MPs are from the Congress. From the DMK, Ms Kanimozhi and her party colleague, SP Parthiban, were suspended. The others are from Left parties.

READ | Trinamool’s Derek O’Brien Suspended From Rajya Sabha For “Unruly Behaviour”

Congress MP KC Venugopal called the suspensions a “horrible, undemocratic move”. “… there is no action against the BJP MP who facilitated the entry of the miscreants. This is murder of democracy. The BJP government has reduced Parliament to a rubber stamp…” he said on X (formerly Twitter).

Ms Kanimozhi told NDTV that BJP lawmakers, when in the opposition, had also protested in the Well of the House – an action now frowned upon by the saffron party as unbecoming of MPs.

“We were in the Well protesting and asking for an explanation.. .they said we were holding placards. Yes, if you don’t listen to us, then we have to hold placards for you to read,” she said.

“The governemnt wanted to continue today… pretend everything is normal and that there was no big security lapse. So we had to ask for an explanation. But apparently asking questions is wrong… so how is this a ‘temple of democracy’?” the DMK leader continued.

Parliament Smoke Attack: What Happened?

On Wednesday afternoon, as the Lok Sabha was holding a Zero Hour session, one man jumped out of the visitors’ gallery and into the chamber. He popped a yellow smoke canister and, in incredible scenes, jumped from desk to desk in an attempt to reach the Lok Sabha Speaker’s Chair.

He was overpowered and captured by MPs, several of whom then thrashed him. A second man remained in the gallery; he too opened a smoke canister, presumably to distract attention.

Two others – a man and a woman – opened smoke canisters outside Parliament. 

READ | Breach Mastermind Last Seen In Rajasthan, He Fixed Date, Filmed Smoke Scare

All four have been arrested, as have two of their accomplices – Vicky Sharma and his wife. A sixth person, Lalit Jha, believed to be the mastermind behind this incident, is on the run.

The four who popped the canisters have been sent to police custody for seven days.

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