The budget session of the state Vidhan Sabha started on a stormy note here on Tuesday.
Demanding debate on the telephone tapping issue, aggressive Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators resorted to sloganeering against the Congress government.
As soon as the question hour began, BJP legislators one after the other got up from their seats and urged speaker Brij Bihari Butail to allow debate on telephone tapping.
The BJP served two notices for adjournment on telephone tapping and other on rechristening names of schemes named after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Pacifying BJP members, Butail apprised them that he had received two adjournment notices and they were under consideration. However, opposition members continued to press for debate on telephone tapping.
Himachal Lokhit Party chief Maheshwar Singh wanted to know the fate of the calling attention motion he had moved on telephone tapping.
The BJP wanted to know that who were the people whose telephones were intercepted by the police. The members said on one hand, the government officials were on record saying that information on telephone interception cannot be made public and on the other, Congress ministers and party office-bearers were giving conflicting statements.
Complete pandemonium prevailed after Butail said the adjournment motion moved by the government could only be considered after zero hour.
The entire opposition, including former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, vociferously raised slogans against the government. The opposition members also disrupted chief minister Virbhadra Singh when he made a statement on the telephone tapping issue.
Quoting the provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, he said information on telephone taping could not be revealed.
“This information is privileged as per Section 4 of the Telegraph Act and cannot be disclosed. In view of the above facts, the information regarding phone tapping cannot be disclosed,” Virbhadra told the house.
The ruling benches were caught unprepared. The Congress legislators raised slogans to counter BJP MLAs as chief minister Virbhadra Singh and parliamentary affairs minister Mukesh Agnihotri made unsuccessful bids to silence the opposition.
Agnihotri was found rushing to the speaker with notes from the government's side. The question hour began 20 minutes late amid the pandemonium. Ten questions were raised by the ruling party members, while none of the members from the BJP posed questions.
The chief minister Singh announced the candidature Kinnaur legislator Jagat Singh Negi for the post of deputy speaker.
Irrigation and public health minister Vidya Stokes seconded Negi's candidature.
After being elected, the chief minister and Agnihotri escorted Negi to his seat while opposition leader Prem Kumar Dhumal did not accompany them. Later, the speaker adjourned the assembly till Wednesday.