Nine Punjab Congress MLAs, who had captured the Vidhan Sabha speaker's podium after punching and pushing security marshals, were debarred from attending the rest of the budget session by speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal here on Thursday.
On Wednesday, first-time legislator Amrinder Singh Raja Warring had climbed over the shoulders of the watch and ward staff, who had formed a human wall, and was seen punching the marshals, while other Congress MLAs had stormed the podium where the speaker sits.
In this melee, as the House was adjourned, Congress MLA and former minister Jagmohan Singh Kang had occupied the speaker's chair. In between, another party legislator, Rana Gurjit Singh, had started thumping the speaker's table with the latter's wooden gavel.
With SAD-BJP ministers and MLAs mounting pressure for exemplary punishment, the speaker cracked the whip and suspended Congress MLAs Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, Jagmohan Singh Kang, Charanjit Singh Channi, Rana Gurjit Singh, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Hardayal Singh Kamboj, Kuljit Singh Nagra, Balbir Singh Sidhu and Parminder Singh Pinki till the assembly session's last sitting on March 26.
"This is a sign of the SAD-BJP's arrogance," said Sunil Kumar Jakhar, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader.
When the House proceedings began on Thursday morning, the speaker denounced the unruly behaviour of Congress MLAs and dubbed Kang's unusual act as "an insult to the chair of the House."
Initially, the speaker suspended nine Congress MLAs for the day only and directed them to leave the House. The MLAs resorted to sloganeering, forcing Atwal to adjourn the House for an hour.
When the house re-assembled, the CLP decided to boycott the assembly proceedings.
Unhappy with the daylong suspension, the ruling party benches demanded tough action by the speaker against the nine opposition MLAs.
Parliamentary affairs minister Madan Mohan Mittal laid the "foundation" for debarring the MLAs for the rest of the session. He bounced a question, asking if the assembly should continue recognising Jakhar as the CLP leader.
"I want this House to condemn the conduct of the CLP leader," said Mittal. He said all democratic rules were violated with impunity by the Congress inside as well as outside the House on Wednesday.
Mittal's statement prompted other SAD-BJP MLAs, including Sohan Singh Thandal, Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, NK Sharma, Pawan Kumar Tinu, Mohinder Kaur Josh, cabinet minister Anil Joshi and former minister Manoranjan Kalia, to urge the speaker to take tough punitive measures against Congress MLAs, describing the daylong suspension as " a very mild punishment."
Sensing the mood of the ruling legislators, Mittal again told the speaker: "The one-day suspension does not meet the ends of justice… We are not satisfied… They should be suspended for the rest of the session."
However, the speaker said he would inform the House on Friday about his next action, if any.
"The matter is very serious," cabinet minister Bikram Singh Majithia said, even as other Akali-BJP MLAs also stood up and urged the speaker for stern action against the Congress.
"Justice delayed is justice denied…we will not be able to show our faces to the people… Congress MLAs who assaulted Dalit cop Jaipal Singh must be punished," Majithia said.
"I respect your sentiments…" assured the speaker.
After some time, the speaker went to his chamber, while some SAD leaders, too, left the House. When the speaker came back, Mittal reiterated the urgency for taking tough action against the Congress MLAs and moved the resolution, which was passed with voice vote.
Then, the speaker pronounced the verdict, leaving the Congress camp outside fuming.