New Delhi: India’s parliament was adjourned on Monday after noisy protests by opposition lawmakers over the expulsion from the house of top opposition figure Rahul Gandhi.
Gandhi was stripped of his parliamentary seat on Friday.
Members of Gandhi’s opposition Congress party wore black shirts and scarves as parliament opened on Monday. Some threw paper at the speaker, who then adjourned proceedings.
“I want to run the House with dignity,” Speaker Om Birla said. “Proceedings of the House are adjourned till 4 pm.”
Hundreds of supporters of the Congress party demonstrated in the heart of New Delhi and dozens were detained by police.
Lawmakers from 18 opposition parties also protested together outside Parliament, donning black clothes to symbolise mourning and waving posters that warned India’s democracy is in danger.
Gandhi’s expulsion came a day after he was convicted of defamation in Modi’s home state of Gujarat for a 2019 campaign-trail remark seen as an insult to the premier.
Gandhi, 52, is the leading face of Congress, once the dominant force of Indian politics but now a shadow of its former self.
He is the scion of India’s most famous political dynasty and the son, grandson and great-grandson of former prime ministers, beginning with independence leader Jawaharlal Nehru.
But he has failed to challenge the electoral juggernaut of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its nationalist appeals to India’s majority.
The lower house of parliament ruled him ineligible to continue sitting as an MP on Friday, a day after his conviction in the defamation case.
The prosecution stemmed from a remark made during the 2019 election campaign, during which Gandhi had asked why “all thieves have Modi as (their) common surname”.
His comments were portrayed as a slur against the prime minister, who went on to win the election in a landslide.
Members of the government also said the remark was a smear against all those sharing the Modi surname.
Gandhi was sentenced to two years imprisonment on Thursday but walked free on bail after his lawyers vowed to appeal.
A BJP spokesman said Thursday the court acted with “due judicial process” in arriving at its judgement.
Gandhi faces several other defamation cases and a money-laundering case that has been snaking its way through India’s glacial legal system for more than a decade.
The Editors Guild of India said there is also a wider “trend of using government agencies to intimidate or harass press organisations that are critical of government policies”.
On Saturday, Gandhi, who recently completed a walk across India that was hailed as a success by commentators, said he would “do whatever I have to do to defend the democratic nature of this country”.
The Indian Youth Congress workers were detained in Delhi after they protested over the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi as an MP.
Congress MLAs arrived at the Odisha Assembly today wearing black shirts, in protest against the Central Government and the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi as an MP. The House was adjourned till 4 pm today amid sloganeering by them.
In Bihar where Congress is in alliance with Mahagathbandhan comprising of JD(U), and RJD, the leaders of the alliance staged a protest march in Patna, sporting black bands.
Congress MLAs arrived at the Tamil Nadu Assembly in Chennai today, wearing black shirts in protest against the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi as an MP. The MLAs also carried placards in his support.