The monsoon session of the Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha started on a fiery note, with the opposition BJP stalling the question hour and moving into well, demanding a debate on devastation due to incessant rain in tribal Kinnaur and other districts of the state.
The House also paid homage to former legislator and freedom fighter Sarla Sharma, who died on May 2 at the age of 92.
Just before the zero hour, chief whip of the opposition and Shimla legislator Suresh Bhardwaj inquired about the fate of notices moved under Rule 67, seeking adjournment motion to deliberate on losses caused by rain in the state.
Other legislators of the BJP endorsed Bhardwaj's demand for suspending the question hour to discuss the rain losses.
Vidhan Sabha speaker Brij Bihari Lal Butail attempted to pacify the opposition members, saying that chief minister Virbhadra Singh would make a statement in the House on devastations caused by rain.
Intervening, the chief minister said, “I know you are restless and you know it will only add to the problems. I have every right to give a statement in the house.”
Butail apprised the House that notices given by the opposition members were not as per rules of the House. He maintained that a single notice was received by the Vidhan Sabha secretariat, which was signed by different MLAs instead of separate notices signed by different MLAs.
Butail's reply led to uproar in the House as opposition MLAs stood up from their seat.
Ravinder Ravi told the speaker that notices were forwarded to the speaker after consultation with the Vidhan Sabha secretariat. The speaker refused for a debate.
Demanding discussion on rain devastation, leader of opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal suggested that if the speaker deemed it appropriate the calling attention motion moved by Dharampur legislator Mohinder Singh Thakur on repeated earthquakes in the state could be clubbed with deliberations on rain and the House could hold discussion on natural disaster.
Dhumal said the main aim of moving the adjournment motion was that the opposition legislator wanted to raise their concern over rain damages in their respective constituencies. Quoting rules, he said no discussion could be held further till the chief minister gave a statement in the House.
Butail replying to Dhumal's suggestions said there were many resolutions on rain damage which would provide opportunity to members to raise issues related to rain and saying this he “technically” rejected the adjournment motion.
On this, the opposition members began to raise slogans to press for their demand over adjournment.
Industry minister Mukesh Agnihotri, who also holds the charge of parliamentary affairs, read out the rules while the opposition members consistently raised slogans.
The opposition members rejected Agnihotri's request for allowing the chief minister to make a statement in the House.
However, amid the pandemonium, the speaker initiated the question hour. Nothing could be heard in the house even as one after the other Congress members raised questions on several issues.
Complete pandemonium prevailed in the Vidhan Sabha. BJP members led by Prem Kumar Dhumal raised slogans against the Congress government entered the well of the House, a few minutes before the question hour was to end.
The opposition members moved close to the chief minister while he was replying to questions. Opposition legislators also targeted food and civil supplies minister GS Bali for unavailability of sugar in government-run depots.
Revenue minister Kaul Singh was targeted for not doing much for disaster management. The House continued to proceed amid sloganeering and the chief minister made his statement on the flood situation by tabling it on the floor of the house.