Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan suspended at least 25 Congress MPs for five days for 'disturbing' the Parliament, reducing the 44-member party to less than half its strength in the Lower House of the Parliament for the next few sessions.
The Speaker invoked Rule 374(A) and suspended the Congress MPs for causing 'grave disorder' in the Parliament.
Among those suspended were Gaurav Gogoi, Sushmita Dev, R Dhruvanarayana, Ninong Ering, Deepender Hooda, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, BN Chandrappa, BV Nayak, Suresh Kodikunnil, and Abhijit Mukherjee, according to ANI news agency.
The Congress members were allegedly shouting slogans and waving placards in the Well of the house, which the Speaker claimed fell under the circumstances enlisted in Rule 374 (A), which says that 'in the event of grave disorder occasioned by a member coming into the well of the House or abusing the Rules of the House persistently and wilfully obstructing its business by shouting slogans or otherwise, such member shall, on being named by the Speaker, stand automatically suspended from the service of the House for five consecutive sittings or the remainder of the session, whichever is less'.
The move comes as Congress chief Sonia Gandhi stepped up the Opposition's protest against the Narendra Modi-government, reiterating that it will not call off protests till the government takes action against scam-accused ministers.
"(There will be) no productive discussions, no meaningful proceedings as long as those responsible for gross wrong-doings remain in office," Gandhi said.
Congress leader Rajeev Shukla called the suspension 'undemocratic'.
This is the most undemocratic thing which has been done today. In the last two decades, I have not seen such a thing. The voice of opposition is being muzzled," he told ANI.
Sonia Gandhi herself said that it was a 'black day for democracy'.
Other Opposition parties such as the Trinamool Congress have reportedly boycotted the Speaker's decision.
Today is a black day for democracy: Sonia Gandhi on Cong MPs suspension
— ANI (@ANI_news) August 3, 2015
The parliament's monsoon session has been drowned out by chaos since the beginning, as the Opposition demands that the Modi government sack External affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj over the Lalit Modi controversy and Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Chauhan for the Vyapam scam.
Swaraj said on Monday that she had not helped Lalit Modi get travel documents.
"I never requested the British government for travel documents for Lalit Modi," Swaraj said in the Rajya Sabha.