141 MPs suspended, Indian government faces accusations of assaulting democracy.

More than 140 Indian opposition politicians have been excluded from the rest of the winter session of parliament after protesting against a breach of security in the parliamentary premises.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) government faced accusations of attacking democracy and creating “anarchy” as 141 MPs from 11 different opposition parties were suspended, making it the largest number of suspensions in history.

While opposition MPs have faced suspension in the past, this incident marks the highest number of suspensions recorded in Indian parliamentary history. On Monday alone, 78 MPs were suspended, setting a record for a single day.

Most suspended politicians will have their suspension lifted when the winter session ends on Friday, but some cases will be reviewed by the parliamentary privileges committee.

Karti Chidambaram, a member of the opposition National Congress party, claimed that parliament “is going to resemble the North Korean assembly”, while Mallikarjun Kharge, the party’s president, accused the government of attempting to “scare” the opposition parties.

The MPs were accused of disrupting proceedings after protesting against a recent incident where six intruders broke into the lower house of parliament and released canisters of non-toxic colored gas while MPs were present. The intruders, who were later arrested, expressed their anger towards the government’s economic policies and lack of job opportunities.

The opposition MPs have been demanding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah address the incident and debate the matter in parliament. However, the BJP speaker has refused to allow the debate, stating that the security breach is not within the government’s jurisdiction.

Many of the suspended opposition politicians engaged in protests that involved chanting, brandishing placards, some of which displayed the face of Modi. The speaker of the house declared that such placards are not permitted on parliamentary premises, leading to their suspensions.

Modi retaliated against the opposition politicians, accusing them of engaging in “antics” and claiming that they are not capable of constructive work.

Almost two-thirds of those suspended belong to the newly formed opposition coalition, known as INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance), which aims to collectively challenge the BJP in the upcoming election in May. The coalition met in Delhi on Tuesday to discuss their election strategy.

“Unfortunately, we have to start writing obituaries for parliamentary democracy in India,” stated Shashi Tharoor, a leader of the Congress party who was among those suspended.

The Modi government has faced criticism for undermining parliamentary democracy in India since coming to power in 2014 and using its strong majority to target opposition parties and critical MPs. Many have faced harassment and criminal investigations by government agencies.

Manish Tewari, another suspended Congress MP, accused the government of suspending the MPs in order to pass “draconian” criminal laws during the winter session without room for dissent.

The BJP already holds a significant majority in parliament, enabling them to pass bills without opposition support. “Parliament has been completely delegitimized,” remarked Tewari, while Sushil Kumar Rinku, an MP from the Aam Admi party, said that “those who speak the truth and ask questions have been suspended from the house today”.

Last month, Mahua Moitra, an opposition MP known for her vocal criticism of Modi and the BJP government, was expelled from parliament. She denounced the parliamentary ethics committee that recommended her expulsion as a “kangaroo court”.

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