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Frequent disruptions “damaging” to democracy: Speaker

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New Delhi: Speaker Sumitra Mahajan today said Congress was “wrong” in obstructing External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj when she spoke in Lok Sabha today and said she felt “aghast” at the frequent disruptions which are “damaging” to democracy.

She suggested that her decision to have the Lok Sabha TV show opposition members shouting slogans in the well and carrying placards might have played a role in their agreeing to a discussion on the Lalit Modi row allegedly involving Swaraj.

“You (Congress) have said what you want. Now you are obstructing the Minister (Swaraj) from replying… That was very much wrong,” she told Karan Thapar on India Today.

Asked about the disruption by BJP members when Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi spoke, she said that was a “retaliation”.

Mahajan said she was with those who felt “disillusioned” at the disruptions in Parliament leading to a virtual washout of the monsoon session and said she wanted to stop members from rushing to the well and carrying placards.

“If I can do these two things, I will consider my speakership successful,” she said.

“Having such unruly behaviour of members, I am also aghast. We have not come here for this. May be, it is damaging to democracy I agree with this,” she said. Told that such disruptions had occurred earlier, including by BJP, she said “obstruction is never good” and she was trying to make a start.

Blaming Congress for the impasse, she said the main opposition did not come to the meeting called by her on the request of Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and insisted on its “first resignation, then discussion” demand.

She had suspended 25 Congress members because of their “persistent” disruption as she wanted to show “mirrors” to members.

“People must learn. Parliament has some rules and they must be followed,” she said.

Mahajan, however, added that she did not feel happy using the cane and does not want another such episode of suspension.

Asked about the Congress’s charge that she acted under the government’s pressure, she said that it was not in her nature that somebody can run her and also added that she would not shy away from taking action against ruling NDA members if faced with a similar situation.

She said she felt bad but not angry at the protests attacking her, including by youth Congress members outside her home.