Hope voice of opposition will be allowed in Lok Sabha: Rahul Gandhi

Gandhi countered the government's claims of high productivity of the LS and said the question is not how efficiently the House is run, but how much of India's voice is being allowed to be heard.
Leader of the Opposition Rahul Gandhi speaks during election of the Speaker of the 18th Lok Sabha, in New Delhi.
Leader of the Opposition Rahul Gandhi speaks during election of the Speaker of the 18th Lok Sabha, in New Delhi.Photo | PTI

NEW DELHI: Congratulating Om Birla for being elected Speaker of the Lok Sabha for a second term, Leader of Opposition Rahul Gandhi and other opposition MPs on Wednesday hoped they would be allowed to raise the "voice of people" in the House and suspension of MPs will not be done again.

Gandhi also countered the government over claims of high productivity of the Lok Sabha and said the question is not how efficiently the House is run, but how much of India's voice is being allowed to be heard.

While the opposition pushed a contest for the post of Speaker by pitching K Suresh against Birla, who was announced elected by a voice vote, Gandhi went and congratulated Birla on the floor of the House.

In a democratic spirit and amid clapping from both sides, Gandhi also escorted Birla, soon after he was re-elected as the new Speaker, to the Chair along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju. He also greeted him and wished him for his new innings.

Leader of the Opposition Rahul Gandhi speaks during election of the Speaker of the 18th Lok Sabha, in New Delhi.
A rare Rahul-Modi handshake in the House

Gandhi said the opposition wanted the House to function "often and well" and added that it was very important that cooperation happens on the basis of trust.

Gandhi, who is usually seen wearing a white T-shirt and trousers, was clad in white kurta-pyjama on his first day as Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha.

Countering the government's claim that the previous Lok Sabha clocked high productivity, the Congress leader also said running the House by silencing the opposition is an undemocratic idea.

"I would like to congratulate you for your successful election, for the second time that you have been elected. I would like to congratulate you on behalf of the entire opposition, on behalf of the INDIA alliance.

"This House represents the voice of India's people and you, Speaker Sir, are the final arbiter of that voice. Of course, the government has political power, but the opposition also represents the voice of India's people and this time, the opposition represents significantly more voice of the Indian people than it did last time," he said.

Leader of the Opposition Rahul Gandhi speaks during election of the Speaker of the 18th Lok Sabha, in New Delhi.
Opposition urges Speaker Om Birla to be impartial, allow voice of people in the House

He said the opposition would like to assist the Speaker in his work.

"I am confident you will allow us to speak in House," he said.

Pointing out that this time the opposition represents significantly more voices of the Indian people than last time, Gandhi stressed that it is very important that the voice of opposition is allowed in the House.

"I am confident that you will allow us to represent our voice, allow us to speak, to represent voice of people of India," the leader of opposition said.

The question, he said, is not how efficiently the House is run, but the question is how much of India's voice is allowed to be heard in the House.

"The idea that you can run the House efficiently by silencing the voice of opposition is a non-democratic idea.

"This election has shown that the people of India expect the opposition to defend the Constitution, the 'Samvidhan' of this country and we are confident that by allowing opposition to speak, by allowing us to represent the people of India, you will do your duty of defending the Constitution of India," the Congress MP said.

"I would like to once again congratulate you Speaker Sir and also all the members of the House, who have won their election," Gandhi said in his remarks to felicitate the Speaker.

Akhilesh Yadav, the leader of Samajwadi Party (SP), the third largest party in the House, hoped that actions like suspension of MPs would not be taken as they hurt the dignity of the House.

Leader of the Opposition Rahul Gandhi speaks during election of the Speaker of the 18th Lok Sabha, in New Delhi.
Protests on as record 141 opposition MPs get suspended from Parliament; PM Modi slams them

"We believe you will move forward without discrimination and as the Speaker, you will give equal opportunity and respect to every party.

Impartiality is a great responsibility of this great post," Yadav said.

He said they expect that the voice of no public representative will be suppressed and actions like suspensions which hurt the dignity of the House will not be taken.

"Aapka ankush satta paksh pe bhi rahe, vipaksh pe to rehta hi hai (your restrain should be on the treasury benches too, as it is always there on the opposition)," he said.

"Aapke ishaare pe sadan chale, is se ulta na ho (the House should run on your directions, and not the opposite)," he also said, in a swipe at the government running the show in Parliament.

DMK's T R Baalu also reminded the Speaker that he should treat the opposition and the ruling party in the same manner.

"There is no politics in the House. You should treat all parties in the same way. Kindly be impartial, impartial, impartial," he said.

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Arvind Sawant said, "What we need is harmony, not hatred" and added that "we do not want to create walls here".

AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi, meanwhile, said, "The character of the House has changed and the BJP won't be able to steamroll. I hope that the government will lessen your burden by electing a Deputy Speaker."

Similar concerns were expressed by Communist Party of India (Marxist) MP Amraam, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Arvind Sawant, Nationalist Congress Party (SP) MP Supriya Sule and RSP MP N K Premchandran.

All of them hoped that the opposition's voice will not be crushed.

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