The last day of the budget session of Punjab assembly was witness to some amusing moments. First-time Congress MLA Mohd Sadique, a legendary folk singer of the state, crooned a few lines after a request from chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and due permission of the assembly speaker.
And clearly, the Congress members were not amused over the development. The ruling combine also made use of the occasion to throw a few barbs at the Opposition.
"Bharat hai waang mundri, vich nag Punjab da... Bharat hai je sharab, nasha e Punjab da... Aavan nu ta javanian, har ik te aundiaan... Par hor hi hisab hai, sade shabab da," sang Sadique, even as MLAs on opposition benches cringed at his action to honour a request from the treasury bench.
The surprising development occurred after Sadique rose to demand a college in his constituency Bhadaur. Badal intervened, only to make a strange request. "If anything can be taken up in the Zero Hour, Speaker sahib, why not have a song from Sadique sahib?" Badal wondered aloud, as the 72-year-old singer-turned-politician was busy referring to a visit by the CM's son and deputy Sukhbir Singh Badal to his village Kup Rahira last year.
"Yes, he can sing," said speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal.
Visibly eager to oblige, and in all humility, before breaking into a song, Sadique praised Badal as a person who does not refuse anything to anyone who approaches him. "He (Sukhbir) is not present in the House today, but I want to remind of the promise that he made, when he came to my village on October 9, 2010, of building a college," he said, and then sang in his earthy voice, apparently against the wishes of his party colleagues. Leader of the Opposition Sunil Jakhar was seen waving at him, asking him to sit down.
After he finished, the CM took an apparent dig at the Opposition: "Hun vaen paun waley vi laike aao (Now bring in some wailers too)."
As Sadique left soon after, the promise of a college was lost in the din, eliciting no assurance from the government.
Stinging comments from both sides followed. Visibly not impressed with his party colleague singing on the CM's request, Sunil Jakhar later told HT, "CM Parkash Singh Badal should not turn the assembly into a laughter club, and lay traps to humiliate his political adversaries. Instead, he should spend time on ensuring good of Punjab."
Congress MLAs Navtej Singh Cheema, Parminder Singh and Gurkirat Singh Kotli also condemned Badal for prompting Sadique's performance.
On the other hand, SAD MLA and revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia issued a statement in the evening, saying that "an issueless Congress has reduced the Vidhan Sabha to a singing stage".