NEW DELHI: CPM MP KK Ragesh, one of the eight suspended Rajya Sabha members, has written an open letter to Deputy Chairman Harivansh.
In the letter dated September 23, 2020, Ragesh accused Harivansh of having a "hypocritical posture," and described the incident that occurred during the passage of agriculture Bills in the Upper House on September 20 as "most undemocratic decision" by Harivansh leading to the protest by opposition MPs.
Ragesh recalled the meeting of Harivansh with the suspended Rajya Sabha MPs at the lawns near the Mahatma Gandhi statue in the Parliament premises.
"I am thankful for the gesture of meeting us in the Parliament House lawns near the Gandhi statue and offering tea to me along with the other members of Parliament who were on strike in protest of the unprecedented stance taken by you in the Rajya Sabha. I remember that you told us that you came to meet us as a colleague in Rajya Sabha," he said.
"But what was followed after the visit was your strange letter to the Vice President of India baselessly accusing the members including me of attempting to assault on you in the House and showing disrespect to the Deputy Chairman. You went on to claim that you are embarking on a fast to show your "anguish" over the behaviour of the MPs," he added.
"It is surprising as to how come a person like you, who claims to be socialist, could show such a hypocritical posture, try totally neglecting the real incidents, towards embracing political equities," he added.
Ragesh claimed that what happened in the House on 20 September 2020 was the "blatant refusal" of his right as a Member of Parliament from the Deputy Chairman side.
"The position held by you has the constitutional and moral obligation to uphold the right of each and every in the Upper House of the Parliament. In the House on the 20 September 2020, what was led to the protest from members was nothing but the most undemocratic decision by you to reject the demand for 'division of votes" instead of 'voice vote, on the statutory resolution to disapprove the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Bill, 2020. The decision from you influenced by the dictates of the treasury bench was instigating the protest," Ragesh said in the open letter.
"I would be really interested to know whether you feel pride while passing of such important legislation by neglecting the strong protest of the opposition parties and 'ignoring the procedures' and precedents of the House," he said.
"It was your decision to outrightly reject the right of the opposition parties and the adamancy, which resulted in the altercation in the House, which with your stubborn attitude, to grow as a strong protest. On what ground did you take the decision to abruptly cut short the reply of the minister and to pass the Bills? On what grounds did you refuse to admit my request for division of votes on the statutory resolution?" he asked.
"In fact, you might remember that as you had appealed, I returned to my seat from the well of the House and repeatedly raised the request for division of votes from my seat. But strangely, by ignoring my appeal you asked for a voice vote and declared that the statutory resolution got negatived. You should have adjourned the House for 5 minutes and resume the business and led to a healthy discussion, instead of rushing with such an arbitrary decision to satisfy the treasury bench," he added.
"Was your decision to allow the passing of the Bills amid such a strong protest from members, by maintaining utter disregard to the rules and procedures was to appease the Prime Minister as well as to get into his good books?" the CPM MP asked.
"Did you think that you were right when you refused to allow the appeal for the voting of the motion moved by myself and Tiruchi Siva to send the Bills to the Select Committee of the House? Do you remember that you refused to even open our mikes despite several appeals neglected our appeal to allow our rights, ensured to us under the Constitution as MPs and went on to red carpet the anti-farmer Bills," he added.
On what grounds did you put a charge on a member that he did not request for the chair's permission by remaining in the seat "allotted to him"?
"Did any members are given a specific seat at times due to obvious reasons when COVID-19 precautions of social distancing make us to sit in even the Lok Sabha Chamber?" he asked.
On September 20, Rajya Sabha witnessed unruly scenes as Opposition members stormed the well and reached the deputy chairman's seat to protest against the Farmer's Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and passed by the Upper House through voice vote.