When Delhi Assembly Speaker Maninder Singh Dhir announced on Friday that Jan Lokpal Bill could not be tabled in the House, he was at his assertive best. Dhir, an AAP MLA from Jungpura, faced criticism from the BJP and Congress for allegedly being biased towards his party members.
While on the first day his powers were taken away by opposition members who invoked relevant rules, day two saw him confused and guarded.
After adjourning the session once on Friday, he read out the letter sent by Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung in which he had written to the MLAs that the House should not consider the Delhi Lokpal Bill unless he recommended it. Even as non-AAP members shouted against discussing the Bill or the L-G’s letter, Dhir ended up saying that he was giving permission to table the Bill.
It was only after BJP leader Harsh Vardhan told him it was illegal and Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh pleaded that he decided to change his mind. “We have run the government for 15 years. Many a time, the Speaker rules against us. We respect your position and for God’s sake you also respect it,” Singh urged. He said he was ready to fold his hands to pray to him to not overrule the L-G.
With no background in politics, Dhir clearly found it tough to handle the MLAs, most of whom are political veterans for most part of their lives. He mixed up certain terms during the session, drawing chuckles and sharp criticism from the members.
When Singh pointed out that the agenda of the House mentioned that Delhi Janlokpal Bill could be introduced only “with the leave of the House”, Dhir failed to follow it.
In Parliamentary parlance, leave of the House means nobody present objects to introduction of a bill. Dhir, however, asked the members whoever “wanted to give permission for the leave of the House”.