The special MP assembly session on Thursday started on a fiery note with the Congress demanding that the deaths of drought-hit farmers should find mention in the condolence list. The one-day special assembly session was called to find solution to the ongoing agrarian crisis in the state and provide immediate relief to the farmers.
At session began with condolences being offered to 13 people who passed away recently, including former President APJ Abdul Kalam and the victims of the Petlawad blast and the Harda rain accident. At this point, Congress MLA Ram Niwas Rawat urged the speaker to also include the farmers who had committed suicide or died of heart attack in the condolence message, creating uproar in the House as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members objected to Rawat’s proposal.
Defending Rawat’s appeal, leader of the Opposition in the assembly, Satyadev Katare said it was unfair to exclude the farmers but condoling Petlawad blast victims just because of the forthcoming by-election there. Senior Congress MLA Bala Bachchan questioned why the farmers were left out of the list when the session was called to address their issues.
However, minister for legislative affairs Narottam Mishra objected saying that the Congress should avoid politics on the sensitive issue. Speaker Sitasharan Sharma finally intervened, and the assembly observed 10 minutes of silence in respect of the dead.
After the initial commotion subsided, BJP MLA Kailash Vijayvargiya informed the House that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been named the ninth most powerful personality in the world by Forbes magazine. The House thereafter passed a unanimous resolution congratulating Modi.
The session then proceeded with Rawat raising the Point of Order. He said the assembly had been convened in violation of rules. However, minister of legislative affairs Mishra quickly justified the special session as necessary to provide relief to affected farmers. Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan too stepped in, urging the Opposition to avoid politicising the issue.
Congress members also raised the issue on the main business of the House. Rawat said the session was called to discuss the drought issue but the order of business list only included the ratifying of the supplementary budget. Katare said had even written a letter to convene a special session to address farmers’ issues but was declined. He said the government was now calling the session just to take credit for it.
MLAs says automatic shutting off of microphones ‘undemocratic’
Several MLAs were quite literally silenced on Thursday as they ignored speaker Sitasharan Sharma’s calls to conclude their assembly address.
When a member refused to conclude his address despite repeated attempts, the microphone attached to their desk was shut off, rendering their speech inaudible.
The MLAs, especially those from the Opposition, protested this new arrangement and urged the speaker to go back to the old system where the controls of the microphone were with the MLAs themselves.
During the discussion on supplementary grants for relief amount to be paid to farmers, many Opposition members demanded extra time to put forth their views on the issue. However, as the speaker named the next MLA, the microphone of the previous was shut off.
However, the speaker gave leeway to a number of MLAs, including Sheela Tyagi of BSP, Sohanlal Valmik, Mahendra Singh Kalukheda and Dr Govind Singh of the Congress, to resume their address after they protested.
Members of the Opposition cried foul and said the new system of controlling microphones was undemocratic and being used to quell their voices. The speaker, however, denied having control of the microphones.