After boycotting the budget session of the Punjab assembly for five days over the suspension of its nine MLAs, the Congress decided to bring a no-confidence motion against speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal on Tuesday.
Leader of the Opposition Sunil Jakhar said the Congress would examine the legal and constitutional aspects of the matter. "We will decide the date accordingly. As per our information, the Opposition can bring a no-confidence motion against the speaker even with 10% of the total strength of the assembly," said the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader.
The Congress has 46 MLAs in the 117-member assembly, and enjoys the support of an Independent, Rajnish Babbu, as associate member.
"Subsequent to the motion, a debate of two hours is mandatory, irrespective of the likelihood of the motion getting rejected in the absence of majority. All upcoming issues listed for that particular day when the motion is brought would take precedence, and the House would have to take note of the motion," said Jakhar.
Alleging that the speaker had become a "tool in the hands of the state government", Jakhar said the Congress had no faith in him. "He is biased against us. We have no option but to move a motion against him," he said.
The deadlock between the ruling SAD-BJP coalition and the Congress has been continuing since last Wednesday when nine Congress MLAs were suspended after they created a ruckus in the House. Subsequently, six MLAs were booked for allegedly assaulting a watch and ward staff member in the assembly. The entire legislature group of the Congress registered its protest by boycotting the proceedings of the House and holding a mock assembly session.
Taking on the Opposition, BJP MLA and cabinet minister Madan Mohan Mittal asked the speaker to take the "strictest possible" action against the Congress for holding a parallel session in the Vidhan Sabha premises.
Responding to Mittal's demand, Jakhar said, "Such demands by MLAs of the ruling coalition will only add fuel to the fire and not resolve the matter. The CM says the pandemonium created by the Congress in the assembly last Wednesday was a black day in the history of Punjab. The actual black day will come when we move a motion against the speaker. This has never happened before."
Justifying the decision to hold a mock assembly session, the CLP leader said, "On Monday, the speaker had said that holding protest, hunger strike and parallel session within the premises of the House was illegal. Friday's mock session was organised in the rear lounge of the Vidhan Sabha. On the directions of the speaker, we are now holding the mock session in the Vidhan Sabha car parking towards the front."
SAD spokesman Dr Daljit Singh Cheema said the Congress had the right to bring a motion against the speaker, but for that they would have to come to the House as it could not be done in the mock assembly.
Jakhar had held a series of meetings with the speaker on Monday, during which he was repeatedly asked to tender an apology on behalf of his party for causing pandemonium in the House and manhandling a member of the watch and ward staff, but he refused.