March 3, 2024

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India suspends the membership of 141 MPs, accusing the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party of stifling the opposition

India suspends the membership of 141 MPs, accusing the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party of stifling the opposition

Pallava Bagla/Corbis News/Getty Images

The Indian Parliament building pictured on May 27, 2023.


New Delhi
CNN

He accuses opposition representatives India India’s government launched an assault on democracy after suspending dozens of them from Parliament this week, the latest development in a historic dispute between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and a newly formed coalition that seeks to oust them next year.

House leaders suspended a total of 141 opposition lawmakers — 95 from the House and 46 from the Senate — according to a tally by CNN affiliate CNN News18, which one rights group said was a record number.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has a majority in both chambers and is now expected to pass legislation almost unopposed during the remainder of the session that ends on Friday.

These suspensions come after a major security breach in Parliament last week when two men stormed the hall, chanting slogans and firing colored gas. Opposition lawmakers demanded a parliamentary debate on the violation, but it was suspended by House leaders for causing chaos.

“For the first time in my parliamentary career in nearly 15 years, I too entered the House carrying a banner calling for discussion of the recent security breach,” wrote Shashi Tharoor, a suspended lawmaker from the main opposition Congress party. On X, formerly Twitter. “I did this in solidarity with my colleagues (in Congress) who were wrongfully suspended for demanding government accountability.”

Jairam Ramesh, another Congress lawmaker, called the suspensions a “total purge.” The dismissal of opposition lawmakers occurred “so that draconian bills are passed without meaningful debate,” he claimed on Channel X.

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The New York-based Human Rights Foundation called the suspensions a “record number” and said it “strongly condemns India’s ongoing crackdown on dissent and critics,” in a statement posted on X on Tuesday.

Most of the suspended MPs belong to an alliance known as India, a coalition of opposition parties looking to defeat Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party in next year’s general elections expected in May.

Critics have repeatedly accused the BJP of stifling dissent and undermining democracy in Parliament. She has repeatedly denied these accusations.

CNN has reached out to the BJP for comment. On X, the party He said Lawmakers have been suspended for their behavior in Parliament.

In an interview with a Hindi-language newspaper on Sunday, Modi said the security breach was a serious matter that should be investigated, but did not require parliamentary debate.