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NEW DELHI : Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla on Thursday suspended seven Congress members of Parliament (MPs) from the Lower House for gross misconduct.

The decision to suspend Gaurav Gogoi, T.N. Prathapan, Dean Kuriakose, R. Unnithan, Manicka Tagore, Benny Behanan, and Gurjeet Singh Aujla for the rest of the budget session came two days after the speaker warned of strict action against those who troop to the well of the House to protest or raise issues.

Congress MPs have been protesting against the communal violence in Delhi, demanding the resignation of home minister Amit Shah and an immediate discussion on the violence in both Houses of Parliament.

The trigger for the suspension came on Thursday when some Congress MPs allegedly threw paper toward the chair of the speaker. Soon after the alleged action, the Lok Sabha passed a motion suspending the seven MPs for the remaining period of the budget session for gross misconduct as they had snatched papers from the Speaker’s table with disregard for House rules.

As soon as the House met at 3pm following an adjournment, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Meenakshi Lekhi, who was presiding over the House, named the MPs.

However, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, asserted that the Congress MPs had done noting wrong and said it was a dictatorial decision motivated by revenge politics.

The suspension was an attempt to weaken the party in the House as the government fears a discussion on the Delhi riots in Parliament, he alleged.

“Is this a dictatorship? It seems the government does not want the Delhi violence to be discussed in Parliament. That is why this suspension. We strongly condemn this," said Chowdhury.

“Whether suspending seven MPs is right, people will decide. We will not be scared and will continue to raise the Delhi riots issue. What happened today is a tale of embarrassment in the history of Parliament," Chowdhury said

The ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had proposed that the violence in Delhi could be discussed in the Lok Sabha on 11 March and in the Rajya Sabha the next day.

However, protests by Opposition leaders, primarily of the Congress, have continued for the past four days since the budget session of Parliament was reconvened on Monday. A scuffle broke out between Congress and BJP MPs over the issue.

“Congress leaders reached the height of indiscipline and arrogance. Some pieces of paper were directly thrown at speaker’s chair in the Lok Sabha. This is highly condemnable and unpardonable," said parliamentary affairs minister Prahlad Joshi.

A meeting of the chiefs of all political parties called by the Speaker on Tuesday did not yield results as Congress MPs continued to bring placards and posters to the Lower House to protest. Birla had also cautioned the protesting MPs that carrying placards and posters in House was not allowed and should stop.

The speaker has repeatedly warned that action would be taken against MPs involved in disrupting the functioning of the Lok Sabha.

PTI contributed to this story.

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