The first session of the 14th Punjab Vidhan Sabha will begin on Monday. Former Lok Sabha deputy speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal, who took oath as pro tem speaker on Saturday, will administer the oath to all newly-elected members of the legislative assembly.
Of the 117 members in the House, 46 are first-time MLAs. The Shiromani Akali Dal has 56 MLAs, the BJP 12 and the opposition Congress, 46. There are three independent MLAs.
After the oath-taking ceremony, elections for the posts of speaker and deputy speaker will take place. Atwal, elected from Payal constituency, is tipped to become the speaker. He also held the post in the 1997-2002 Vidhan Sabha. Atwal reportedly wanted a cabinet berth but the SAD is keen on seeing him as the speaker.
The BJP has so far not named any contender for the post of deputy speaker. Former minister and Jalandhar Central MLA Manoranjan Kalia, who was initially the party’s choice, has refused the offer.
Punjab governor Shivraj Patil will address the Vidhan Sabha on March 21 and the vote of thanks on the governor’s address will be passed on March 26.
After the election of speaker and deputy speaker on March 20, the advisory committee comprising MLAs from various political parties — Shiromani Akali Dal, BJP and Congress — will meet to finalise the business of the House. Finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa will also seek vote on account on the budget for the 2012-13 financial year.
The full-fledged budget will be presented later. The Vidhan Sabha session is expected to conclude on March 29. It would be for the fifth time that the Punjab assembly will witness Parkash Singh Badal as the chief minister, while his son Sukhbir Singh Badal would be his deputy for the second consecutive term.
The Congress has replaced Rajinder Kaur Bhattal with three-time Abohar MLA Sunil Jakhar as the leader of the Opposition in the House. The BJP’s legislature party leader is Bhagat Chunni Lal, who has replaced Tikshan Sud.