Rajya Sabha MP Derek O'Brien suspended after throwing Rule Book
Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Derek O'Brien was on Tuesday suspended from the Rajya Sabha for the remainder of the Winter Session. The House Chair announced O'Brien's suspension for "unruly behavior" before adjournment. Earlier Tuesday, O'Brien had reportedly thrown the Rajya Sabha Rule Book at the reporters' table during a heated discussion on Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021—passed in the Lok Sabha Monday.
Why does this story matter?
The Opposition has reiterated complaints of the central government rushing contentious bills through Parliament without a proper vote. Due to the Opposition's protests, the Parliament has seen a disrupted Winter Session. This notably caused the Rajya Sabha's productivity to drop to 37.60% in the third week of the Winter Session, which is set to conclude this Thursday.
What happened in Rajya Sabha today?
The Rajya Sabha passed the controversial electoral reforms via voice vote amid protests by Opposition MPs. Deputy Chairperson Harivansh Narayan Singh cited chaos in the House for the same. O'Brien raised a Point of Order on demands for division of votes and said, "The same thing that you all did on the farm bills, you are doing today. We will walk out of here."
Opposition MPs staged walkout after heated discussion
O'Brien cited Rule 259, which states, "The Chairman shall preserve order and shall have all powers necessary for the purpose of enforcing his decisions." O'Brien threw the Rule Book at the reporters' desk, Deccan Herald reported. He and other Opposition MPs then staged a walkout.
O'Brien insulted whole country: Piyush Goyal
Leader of the House Piyush Goyal said O'Brien had not only insulted the Chair and the House but the whole country. Congress Chief Whip Jairam Ramesh said the electoral laws were passed "most undemocratically." O'Brien later tweeted saying that the government was "bulldozing" the electoral reforms just as it had done with the farm laws last year.
BJP making mockery of Parliament: O'Brien
O'Brien said he was "suspended while protesting against BJP making a mockery of Parliament..." The BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) is the party leading the ruling alliance at the Centre. O'Brien said he hoped the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 would also be repealed soon.
WATCH: O'Brien speaking on electoral reforms in Parliament
What are the electoral reforms?
The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 seeks to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1950, and the Representation of the People Act, 1951. It makes provisions for linking Aadhaar to voter IDs. The contentious provision has raised questions about individual privacy in light of similar concerns over Aadhaar. The amendment also seeks to replace the statutes "gender-neutral," replacing the word "wife" with "spouse."