New Delhi: Congress members from both houses, led by party president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi wore black bands, on Tuesday to protest the suspension of 25 MPs of the party by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
The Congress members, including former prime minister Manmohan Singh, leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, and former union ministers Ghulam nabi Azad, Jairam Ramesh and Ambika Soni, wore black bands on their arms and protested in front the Mahatma Gandhi statue in parliament complex.
"Many parties like the Trinamool Congress, Left and the Aam Aadmi Party have pledged their support to us and said they will boycott Lok Sabha proceeding," Kharge said.
On Monday, Mahajan suspended 25 Congress parliamentarians for five days for "willfully obstructing the business of the house" and not adhering to her repeated warnings for observing rules in the house.
Even as Mahajan justified her decision, the Trinamool Congress announced it would boycott the Lok Sabha for five days. The AAP followed suit but made it clear that it was doing so to denounce Mahajan's decision and not in support of the Congress.
It was another politically tumultuous day, with an all-party meeting convened in the morning in a bid to break the parliament logjam failing to bring peace between the treasury and opposition benches.
The Congress stuck to its demand for the resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and the chief ministers of BJP-ruled Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, and the government rejecting the demand.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said the Congress was being supported by only by two parties -- a reference to the Left and the Janata Dal-United -- and all other parties wanted the house to function.
As the houses met, disruptions erupted in no time in both the Lok Sabha, where the Bharatiya Janata Party is in a majority, and the opposition-dominated Rajya Sabha.
Amid the din in the Rajya Sabha, Sushma Swaraj described as "baseless and unfounded" allegations that she helped former IPL chief Lalit Modi to secure travel documents from the British authorities.
"I did not make any request to the British government for issue of travel documents to Lalit Modi," she said.
The minister wanted to elaborate but Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien was forced to adjourn the house amid vociferous protests from Congress members who moved towards his chair.
The situation was worse in the Lok Sabha, where Congress members held up placards and shouted slogans, inviting repeated warnings from Speaker Mahajan who told Congress MPs not to hold placards.
After conducting the question hour amid din, Mahajan adjourned the Lok Sabha at noon for some two hours. When the house reassembled, Congress MPs raised the pitch of their protests.