The monsoon session of Parliament was adjourned sine die, seven days ahead of schedule, on Wednesday, in the wake of rising instances of lawmakers testing positive for coronavirus. However, for the short span of 10 days that the Parliament did function, the session gained a dubious distinction for raucous protests by members of the Rajya Sabha against Deputy Chairman Harivansh's alleged partisan conduct that allowed the Centre to have two contentious agriculture legislations passed amid din on September 20.
The laws were passed by the Rajya Sabha without Harivansh conceding to the Opposition's demand for amendments or clause-by-clause voting on the two Bills or a division of votes on the legislations' passage.
The ruckus led to the suspension of eight Opposition MPs for the remainder of the session from September 21 onwards. The suspended MPs immediately went on a sit-in protest within the Parliament complex. Harivansh attempted to end the impasse the next morning by visiting the protesting MPs who had sat in protest through the preceding night. While the eight MPs dug in their heels, a united Opposition decided to boycott what was left of the monsoon session; giving the Centre a free pass to get several legislations cleared by both Houses of Parliament without any real debate or resistance.
Congress leader Rajeev Satav, who was attending his first session as a Rajya Sabha member after being elected to the Upper House in July, was among the eight suspended MPs. For Satav, his suspension from the House will be 'doubly memorable and unfortunately for the wrong reasons' - after all, the day he was suspended from the Rajya Sabha was also his 46th birthday.
Satav spent the night sitting in protest along with his other suspended colleagues next to Mahatma Gandhi's statue in the Parliament precincts while also receiving birthday greetings from MPs and well-wishers who 'dropped in to express solidarity'. He spoke to Outlook's Puneet Nicholas Yadavon what had riled the Opposition about the agriculture laws and why he believes that it is the central government and not the suspended MPs who owe Parliament an apology for the chaos.