One of the eight Rajya Sabha members suspended over unprecedented chaos during a vote on two farm bills has launched a scathing attack on Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh, accusing him of trying to "appease Prime Minister Narendra Modi" by "red-carpeting" what he called anti-farmer legislation. In an open letter, CPI-M member KK Ragesh has also accused Mr Singh of political gimmicks and "rushing to satisfy" the ruling BJP.
"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, to appease the Prime Minister as well as to get into his good books?" questioned KK Ragesh in the searing letter.
On Monday, Mr Ragesh and seven other Rajya Sabha members spent a night on parliament lawns after they were suspended over "unruly behaviour" during the passing of two farm bills on Sunday amid massive opposition protests. The entire opposition eventually boycotted parliament before the monsoon session ended earlier than scheduled.
Mr Ragesh, referring to Mr Singh serving tea to the suspended members the morning after their overnight protest, said, "People can't be duped with gimmicks every time." He also called the Deputy Chairman's position on embracing political equities "hypocritical".
"It is surprising as to how a person like you, who claims to be socialist, could show such a hypocritical posture, by neglecting the real incidents towards embracing political equities," read the CPM leader's letter written on Wednesday.
The letter 23 also calls out Mr Singh, an MP from Bihar, for writing to the President and the Vice President shortly after approaching them as a "colleague" with tea.
Mr Singh had written to President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President Venkaiah Naidu that he "will observe a one-day fast.... as he was anguished over opposition attacks in the House" and alleged that he was "assaulted".
In his letter, Mr Singh had said that members of parliament may come and go, but the office of the deputy chairperson and the Rajya Sabha will remain and their dignity should be maintained. "Their conduct was very aggressive and they raised highly indecent and unparliamentary slogans. This disturbing scene of assault on democracy played on my mind and I could not sleep. I am an introvert by nature, a man from a village.”
"What happened in the House on September 20, what led to the protest was nothing but the most undemocratic decision by you to reject the demand for division of votes instead of voice vote... (do) you feel pride while passing of such important legislation by neglecting the strong protest of the opposition parties and ignoring the procedures," he questioned in the letter, wondering whether MPs could just behave like spectators.
"...you might remember that as you had appealed, I returned to my seat and repeatedly raised the request for division of votes. But strangely, by ignoring my appeal you asked for a voice vote...You should have adjourned the House...and resumed business that led to a healthy discussion, instead of rushing ... to satisfy the treasury bench... Do you remember that you refused to even open our mikes, neglecting 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.
Mr Singh became the target of opposition anger on Sunday when he rejected their calls for voting to refer the farm bills to a select committee for further scrutiny and also refused to extend the discussion. The opposition accused him of helping the government pass the bills through a voice vote even though its numbers were in doubt.
As voting continued despite protests, some members rushed to the centre of the House, climbed a table, tossed papers in the air, ripped out mics and hurled the rule-book at Mr Singh.
Mr Ragesh, who was reportedly injured while protesting in the well of the House, had said at the time that even if one member asked for a resolution to be put to vote, it should be.