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Opposition protests: Suspension of 25 MPs questions “democratic ethics” of the Modi government

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By Aishwarya Nag Choudhury

The suspension of 25 Congress MPs by Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan sparked a protest in the Rajya Sabha today morning. The Congress and the nine other opposition parties were seen protesting at the Rajya Sabha proclaiming their decision to boycott both the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha for the next 5 days.

The MPs were suspended by Mahajan for the next 5 working days from the house for protesting with placards in the well of the Lok Sabha and displaying unruly behavior. This, however, has revoked bigger problems for the Parliament and the chair because the opposition parties are demanding the revocation of her decision.

The Speaker took the decision on suspension by invoking Rule 374(A), using it for the first time in the 16th Lok Sabha.  She claimed she had to do this because the congress members were “persistently and willfully obstructing the House by displaying placards and shouting slogans.”

Just as the speaker was about to make her formal announcement, congress MPs Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were seen opposing it. Moreover, TMC leader Sudhip Bandhopadhya and CPM’s P Karunakaran made it a point to translate their parties’ opposition to “harsh action.”

Today morning, the opposition was seen protesting in the Rajya Sabha, triggering adjournment till noon. Congress in collaboration with other parties of the opposition was seen wearing black ties and ribbons around their arms in protest of the suspension.

“As Manmohan Singhji explained, the suspension of 25 MPs is no way of resolving issues,” Mallikharjun Karge said to NewsGram.

However, the issue is no longer restricted to just the suspension of the members. The opposition has delved deeper into the context questioning the democratic ethics of the government.

In an interview to NewsGram, Youth Congress spokesperson Amrish Ranjan Pandey, explained the Congress standpoint. “The Modi government has changed the definition of democracy. MPs are representatives of the common people; the government should listen to their voice. This is the government’s ploy of having not to deal with the debates they cannot withstand” he added.

“Mana ki sansad mein aapki bahumat hain – par sarak humara hain, aur sansad ka raasta sarak se guzar ke jata hain,” Pandey said, referring to the Modi government.

Pandey opined that this is the first time in Indian politics that the government is acting dictatorial and it is not going to work in diversified India.

The Youth congress equally agitated with the suspension are planning to protest against the “undemocratic” government of Modi. The instances of Gajendra Chauhan being trusted to head FTII and Smriti Irani given the education portfolio are being questioned by them. Mahila Congress member Sushmita Puri sharing her opinions with NewsGram said that it is clear that some people in Modiji’s government is corrupt.

“One minister and one cabinet minister is completely corrupt. We demand that you remove them from the ministry and then investigate them, so that they don’t wield power when they are being investigated. If found innocent, they can resume office,” she added.

“We will keep protesting until our demands are met,” was the word of the day in the Rajya Sabha. Samajwadi party’s Dharmendra Yadav paid a visit to support the protest. “I want to ensure democratically fair politics,” he said.  Ghulam Nabi Azad thanked all those who had come in support of the protest and in support of “democracy.”

As the Rajya Sabha resumed at noon, the protestors dispersed. However the agitation against the Modi government has not subsided. This session of the parliament brings into question no ordinary bill, but the democratic ethics of the government.

Discussion is the root of democracy, has the government suspended 25 MP’s to stall discussion and make the opposition weaker? Was the disciplinarian action of Sumitra Mahajan actually required to bring ‘order’ into our Democracy? These were the questions of the protestors in Rajya Sabha. However, it is still to be seen how long the fervour continues. Will the Congress and the opposition parties continue till their demands are met, or will the fervour wither away at the end of the MP’s suspension.

This monsoon session, the government seems to be stuck in a labyrinth that needs efforts to decipher. The steps of the government and the choices of the PM are being closely monitored by the opposition. As the mud-splattering continues, it is still to be seen how the Modi government responds.

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The Answer to The Impending Questions On Demonetization Are Here

While it did broaden the country’s tax base, it was a nightmare for the immense, cash-dependent informal economy.

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Indian Currency. Pixabay

Nearly all of the currency removed from circulation in a surprise 2016 attempt to root out illegal hoards of cash came back into the financial system, Resever Bank of India  has announced, indicating the move did little to slow the underground economy.

Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi’s currency decree, which was designed to destroy the value of billions of dollars in untaxed cash stockpiles, caused an economic slowdown and months of financial chaos for tens of millions of people or demonetization.

Modi announced in a November 2016 TV address that all 500-rupee and 1,000-rupee notes, then worth about $7.50 and $15, would be withdrawn immediately from circulation. The banned notes could be deposited into bank accounts but the government also said it would investigate deposits over 250,000 rupees, or about $3,700. The government eventually released new currency notes worth 500 and 2,000 rupees.

 

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An activist of Congress party hold the banned 500 and 1000 rupee notes.

 

In theory, the decree meant corrupt politicians and businesspeople would suddenly find themselves sitting on billions of dollars in worthless currency, known here as “black money.”

“A few people are spreading corruption for their own benefit,” Modi said in the surprise nighttime speech announcement of the order. “There is a time when you realize that you have to bring some change in society, and this is our time.”

But even as the decree caused turmoil for those in India who have always depended on cash — the poor and middle class, and millions of small traders — the rich found ways around the currency switch. In the months after the decree, businesspeople said that even large amounts of banned currency notes could be traded on the black market, though middlemen charged heavy fees.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with mayor, flickr

The reserve bank of India report said in its Wednesday report that 99.3 percent of the $217 billion in notes withdrawn from circulation had come back into the economy. Some officials had originally predicted that number could be as low as 60 percent.

Also Read: Diverse Gathering To Be Addressed This World BioFuel Day: PM Narendra Modi

“Frankly, I think demonetization was a mistake,” said Gurcharan Das, a writer and the former head of Proctor & Gamble in India. He said that while it did broaden the country’s tax base, it was a nightmare for the immense, cash-dependent informal economy.

“You can’t overnight change that in a country which is poor and illiterate. Therefore, for me it’s not only an economic failure but a moral failure as well,” Das said. (VOA)