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Murder of democracy: Cong protests against BJP

November 25, 2019 20:35 IST

The Congress protested vociferously both inside and outside Parliament on Monday against the political developments in Maharashtra as it stalled proceedings and accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of "murdering democracy" in the state.

IMAGE: Congress president Sonia Gandhi looks at a placard while leading a protest over Maharashtra government formation issue, in front of the Gandhi statue at Parliament House in New Delhi. Photograph: Shahbaz Khan/PTI Photo

While Congress president Sonia Gandhi led the protest by party MPs near Mahatma Gandhi's statue in Parliament complex, party leader Rahul Gandhi led the charge in the Lok Sabha where he dubbed the developments in the state a "murder of democracy".

The protests led to a commotion inside the Lok Sabha, where party MPs Hibi Eden and TN Prathapam entered the Well carrying a black banner which read 'stop murder of democracy'. This led to their suspension after the Speaker named them.

 

The party protested strongly both in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, forcing their adjournment for the day without carrying out any business.

WATCH: Sonia Gandhi leads MPs in protest outside Parliament

 

Sonia Gandhi led the party MPs near Mahatma Gandhi's statue, setting the tone for the protests. Congress leaders, including Ahmed Patel, Anand Sharma and Adhir Ranjan Choudhury, raised slogans and held placards criticising the BJP and demanding "justice".

Rahul Gandhi refused to ask a supplementary question during the Question Hour, saying there was no point in doing it as "democracy has been murdered in Maharashtra".

The Congress also termed the Devendra Fadnavis-Ajit Pawar government "illegal" and "illegitimate".

In a dramatic development on Saturday morning, BJP's Fadnavis took oath as chief minister and NCP's Ajit Pawar of was sworn-in as his deputy on Saturday morning.

The move jolted the Congress, the NCP and the Shiv Sena, who were giving final touches to government formation in the state, but rattled the NCP the most due to Ajit Pawar's rebellion. In the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly, the BJP is the single largest party with 105 MLAs, followed by the Sena (56 MLAs), the NCP (54 MLAs) and the Congress (44 MLAs).

Congress's youth wing IYC also staged a demonstration near the Parliament House, against the BJP-led Centre over alleged "illegal and undemocratic" manner of government formation in Maharashtra.

IMAGE: Sonia with senior party leaders leads a protest against Maharashtra government formation issue, at Parliament premises. Photograph: Shahbaz Khan/PTI Photo

Carrying their protests forward, opposition parties including Congress, NCP, TMC, DMK and Left parties, will boycott the joint sitting of both houses on Tuesday commemorating "Samvidhan Diwas" in the Central Hall of Parliament that will be attended by President Ram Nath Kovind.

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra accused the BJP of disregarding the Constitution in Maharashtra and repeating the "game" it played in Karnataka.

The Congress had accused the BJP of poaching MLAs to form government in Karnataka earlier this year.

"The television is showing that the BJP is disregarding institutions and Constitution in Maharashtra to repeat the game it played in Karnataka," Priyanka Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi.

The Congress general secretary said, "Around 12,000 farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra. For them, no help came from the BJP government's pocket. Have we reached the stage of open kidnapping of the mandate?"

The Congress also said its alliance with the NCP and Shiv Sena had the support of 154 MLAs and the BJP will get a "befitting reply" in the floor test.

The assertion came minutes after the Supreme Court said it will give its order on the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine's plea against the governor's decision to swear-in Fadnavis as chief minister.

IMAGE: A protester holds a banner during Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee workers protest over the political crisis in Maharashtra, in front of BJP HQ in New Delhi. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

Asserting that the Constitution was "trampled upon" in Maharashtra, Congress's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said an "illegitimate government" of the BJP and Ajit Pawar was formed.

"We requested the Supreme Court that a floor test be ordered immediately so that it is proven that the majority is with the alliance formed for Maharashtra's development -- Congress-Sena-NCP. We showed the affidavits of 154 MLAs that clearly prove that the alliance has the majority," Surjewala told reporters, asserting the number will go up when other "MLAs are freed from BJP's jail".

"The combine believes that the people's mandate and democracy will win in Maharashtra. The BJP, Ajit Pawar and all such forces that have trampled upon democracy, kidnapped the mandate and insulted constitutional institutions will get a befitting reply in the floor test, when Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar will be shown the door by MLAs for not having majority," he said.

"We believe that the process will begin on Tuesday," Surjewala, flanked by senior Maharashtra Congress leaders Prithviraj Chavan and Mukul Wasnik, said.

IMAGE: Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee workers protest over the political crisis in Maharashtra, in front of BJP HQ in New Delhi. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

Chavan said some NCP MLAs had signed at "two places", but the first signatures were taken without permission.

"Now they have given individual affidavits. There is no way but to go for a floor test. The only thing is that we want it in 24 hours and that the procedure followed in Karnataka and Uttarakhand should apply here as well," he said.

"Why do they need time? Will horse-trading be allowed? We request the SC to order a floor test immediately. We hope that the court will give its verdict and a floor test will be ordered on Tuesday itself after the oaths of MLAs," the former Maharashtra CM said.

Surjewala said "contract killing of democracy" by the BJP has also become "contract killing of honesty and accountability".

Party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the government's move of issuing a notification on Monday to close probe in nine cases of alleged corruption in irrigation projects in Maharashtra, was the "most brazen, shameful act of conspiracy and corrupt practice", to put together a government "by hook or crook".

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