Condemning the opposition's conduct during the passage of the farm bills on Sunday as 'shameful', the government on Monday said Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh was 'nearly assaulted' by opposition members even when he was ready to take up their motion to move the bills to the select committee.
Eight members -- distributed among the Congress, Communist Party of India-Marxist, Trinamool Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party -- were suspended earlier in the day for the remainder of the Monsoon session over their 'unruly behaviour' during the passage of farm bills in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday.
"The conduct of opposition leaders in the Upper House of Parliament on Sunday was shameful, irresponsible and utter disrespect to parliamentary rules and dignity," Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
He was addressing a press conference along with his cabinet colleagues Pralhad Joshi and Piyush Goyal on the pandemonium in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday and Monday.
Suspended members not leaving the House on Monday in spite of declaration of suspension by the Chairperson was "patently illegal and further aggravates their conduct as far as violating the norms are concerned," Prasad said.
He asserted that the government had clear majority during the passage of the farm bills. It had 110 members in support of the legislation as against 72 opposed to it, he said.
Hailing Harivansh's behaviour as 'exemplary', Prasad said the Deputy Chairperson of the Upper House was ready to take up the opposition's motion for sending the bills to the select committee and was urging them to go to their seats so that House could be in order.
"..it is matter of record 13 times, honourable Deputy Chairman requested opposition members to go back on their seats so that he can take up the opposition members' motion for sending the bill to the select committee," Prasad said, adding that they rather stood on the table and destroyed the mike in front of him.
"It was most shameful day in the history of parliament, mike was destroyed and the rule book was torn. There is enough visual evidence available that if martials would not have protected the Deputy Chairman Harivanshji would have been nearly physically assaulted as to what was happening just by his side at the podium," Prasad said.
Describing Harviansh as a respected Indian from Bihar, the Union Ministers said people from the state were hurt by the opposition's behaviour and will give a reply to them.
"An eminent Indian who hails from Bihar who has made a mark not in the country but in globe was humiliated and Congress and RJD were encouraging it in most abashed manner," he said.
Harivansh is Bharatiya Janata Party ally Janata Dal-United's MP from poll-bound Bihar.
Citing Congress' election manifesto and statements made by the chief ministers of the states ruled by it, Prasad accused the opposition party of double standards on issues including contract farming and agriculture produce marketing committees.
According to sources in the government, there have been 10 instances when members have been suspended from the Rajya Sabha during the tenure of Congress governments.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi who was also present at the press conference said the proposal to curtail the session came from the opposition.