Opposition halts protest as mark of respect to CDS Bipin Rawat

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Opposition parties on Thursday halted their protest for a day as a mark of respect to Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat and 11 personnel who died in a helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu a day ago. But the parties were upset as they were not allowed to pay tributes to the departed general in Rajya Sabha.

Twelve suspended Opposition Rajya Sabha MPs have been staging a protest at the Gandhi statue in Parliament since last week. They were joined by a large number of Opposition MPs on Wednesday.

In Rajya Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge urged Deputy Chairman Harivansh to allow floor leaders of parties to speak for two minutes each to pay tributes to General Rawat. His intervention came after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh made a statement on the incident.

The Deputy Chairman turned down Kharge’s request, saying the House has collectively mourned the deaths and there was no precedent to allow floor leaders to speak separately on the same issue.

The Trinamool Congress staged a walkout from the Rajya Sabha after the MPs were not allowed to speak.

Later, Kharge hit out at the Government. “It is so unfortunate. Leave aside other issues which may be political…this is a national issue. If even on such an unfortunate incident…if we are not given time…then what kind of a democracy is this? How is the House being run and the Government is encouraging all this…We condemn the Government for such an attitude,” he said.

Talking to reporters, TMC Rajya Sabha MP Sushmita Dev said, “After the tragic death of 13 persons, including CDS Bipin Rawat, we lifted the dharna after condolences. We wanted to join the nation in grieving those deaths. This is not a partisan moment. In the Rajya Sabha, it is absolutely appalling, that only the Chair speaks, only the Defence Minister speaks and not a single Opposition party is allowed to say a word to express condolence and grief over this national tragedy.”

DMK leader T K S Elangovan said, “This government thinks that the Parliament is only for their use and not for Opposition parties, which is sad,” he said. RJD’s Manoj Jha said the government could have utilised this opportunity to convey a collective message on such an unfortunate incident. “I feel the government has committed a big mistake. …It is working with a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude. Please do not see politics on such occasions,” he said.





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