Congress MLAs staged a walkout during a discussion on the MP religious freedom (amendment) bill after speaker Ishwar Das Rohani announced an extension in the time of the House beyond 5pm to complete the legislative work listed for Wednesday.
Congress MLAs staged the walkout protesting that they did not get a chance to speak on the bills as they were expecting the legislative work to be postponed to Thursday as it was 5pm -- the time when proceedings normally end.
The MP religious freedom (amendment) bill, 2013, was the only legislation that was passed after a brief discussion participated in by Congress MLAs.
Eleven other amendments to existing acts were passed in a span of 20 minutes without any discussion.
Speculation was rife that the assembly may be adjourned sine die on Thursday as the government’s essential legislative work of passing the supplementary
demands and the amendment bill had been passed.
Home minister Uma Shankar Gupta introduced the MP religious freedom (amendment) bill in the House. Ramniwas Rawat of the Congress while speaking on the discussion questioned the need for the amendment.
He said there was no need for an amendment since there was no issue arising out of religious conversions in Madhya Pradesh.
He questioned the home minister on the need to increase the punishment in forcible conversions.
Rawat said a provision for one-year rigorous imprisonment and Rs. 5,000 fine existed in the act and there was no need for amendment.
He also said it seems that the amendment was being brought in to harass those who run schools and colleges.
Yadvendra Singh of the Congress said the constitution allows people to choose their faith and the amendment was against this freedom.
MLA Arif Aqueel while participating in the discussion said that he was opposed to the amendment and demanded strict action against Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) workers who carry out path sanchalan.
At this, the entire House protested with minister Kailash Vijayvargiya saying path sanchalan by RSS was not relevant to the discussion.
Aqueel said if the constitution provides for everyone to be equal the government should also act against the path sanchalan which is done bearing arms.
Gupta then said the state government had no role in the amendment and added that he was only doing what was proposed by the Union government.
Just then it was 5pm and the speaker announced an extension in time at which Congress MLAs protested and staged a walkout.
The amendment was passed by voice vote. After this, the speaker asked the ministers concerned to table bills and had them passed with only treasury benches eyeing the motions.
The bills that were passed are the MP essential services maintenance and prevention of disruption (amendment) bill, 2013, MP water regulation bill, 2013, MP private professional educational institutes (regulation of admission and fee control) amendment bill, 2013, MP panchayat raj and gram swaraj (second amendment) bill, 2013, MP municipal bodies law (amendment) bill, 2013, MP criminal procedure code (MP amendment) bill, 2013, MP land revenue code (amendment) bill, 2013, MP government employee (superannuation age) amendment bill, 2013, MP public places (religious structures and regulation of activities) amendment bill, 2013, MP private universities (establishment and working) second amendment bill, 2013 and MP entertainment cess legalisation bill, 2013.