NEW DELHI: The suspension of 25 Congress MPs and the resultant boycott by several parties had its echo in the Lok Sabha today with a BJD member making a strong plea against taking up any legislative business in the absence of the opposition.
Tathagata Satpathy raised the matter during Zero Hour at the fag end of his submission on the situation caused in parts of Odisha due to severe floods.
Satpathy said that since several opposition members were not in the House today, official business like passage of bills should not be taken up.
He preceded his plea by hailing the "perseverence and patience" of Speaker Sumitra Mahajan in "dealing with the situation that has arisen".
25 of Congress party's 44 members were suspended yesterday for five working days for continuously disrupting the House by demanding resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje over Lalit Modi issue and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over Vyapam scam.
AIADMK leader P Venugopal, who was the only opposition member sitting on the first column of opposition benches in the wake of the suspension and the boycott, sought to raise the issue of suspension but was disallowed by the Speaker.
BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahtab had also indicated that he wanted to raise the issue after Venugopal.
Speaker told Venugopal that he cannot raise the issue of suspension as the matter cannot be discussed in the House. She said she thought he wanted to raise issue concerning fishermen.
Despite the absence of Congress members and that of several opposition parties, the House did witness protests with YSR Congress members, carrying placards, storming the Well seeking special category status for Andhra Pradesh.
TRS members, with slogans written on paper pinned to their shirts, also staged protests from the aisle demanding separate High Court for Telangana.
The House then took up the discussion on Demands for Excess Grants (Railways).
Congress, as also NCP, AAP, TMC, Left, RJD, JD(U), SP and Muslim League boycotted the House to show solidarity with the suspended members.
Satpathy, while making the plea for not taking up any legislative business, said, "in democracy, opposition is part of the process and therefore no bill or legislative work should be taken up in the absence of the opposition."
He brought up the issue while talking about flood situation in seven districts of Odisha. He said while the state government is doing its utmost to provide relief, it is not enough and the central government should help.
"Sadly, the central government has not reacted... The government of India is sleeping. I would like to draw the attention of the government of India," the BJD member said. "While the House is disturbed, I would like to urge the government of India to move with alacrity and rush help," he said.
He suggested that the centre should immediately send a team to the state to assess the situation and provide help.
BJP member Jagdambika Pal, who later initiated discussion on the Demands for Excess Grants (Railways), remarked that the proceedings of the House were today underway in a proper manner.