The five-day winter session of Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha came to an abrupt end on Friday as the House witnessed “acrimonious” scenes prompting Speaker Brij Behari Lal Butail to adjourn the assembly sine die.
As soon as the proceedings began on the concluding day, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator from Dehra, Ravinder Singh Ravi, pointed out to the Speaker that the adjournment motion notice seeking debate on “Corruption by chief minister stalling development in the state” he had moved under rule 67 and which was later converted into discussion under rule 130, was not listed for the debate.
“In the meeting convened in your chamber on the second day of the session, you had accepted that the resolution will be taken up under rule 130 as it is, but the language has been changed and it is clubbed with resolution by the Congress members,” alleged Ravi, adding that it was done deliberately.
Clarifying on the issue, Butail said he had rejected the notice under rule 67 but was accepted under rule 130 and was clubbed with notices moved by other members as they were on similar nature.
At this, BJP legislator Rajeev Bindal said the Speaker had accepted Ravi’s resolution under rule 130 to break the impasses, but the way its language was changed and intent diluted, was clearly “a breach of trust”.
The Speaker, however, clarified that the content of the notice was changed in accordance with rule 296.
Objecting to the Speaker’s ruling, Shimla legislator Suresh Bhardwaj alleged that the Speaker, after the agreement between government and Opposition, had announced in the House that the resolution would be taken up as it is for discussion on the concluding day.
Amid the uproar, parliamentary minister Mukesh Agnihotri intervened and said the government was and is ready for debate, but on the issue specifically mentioned in the notice.
“Rule 296 gives power to the Speaker to amend any resolution notices that contain inappropriate or irrelevant words,” he added.
Meanwhile, leader of opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal pointed out to the speaker that he was confusing Opposition’s notices, all of which were rejected except for one moved by Ravi.
We had agreed, Dhumal said, to cooperate in smooth functioning of the House because resolution notice moved by our member was accepted.
“You made a history when you adjourned the House for 10 minutes on Day 2 and initiated an agreement. Never before it happened in Himachal,” Dhumal said.
“However, now you are again starting a wrong precedent with your decision and people will never trust the chair,” rued Dhumal requesting the Speaker to allow discussion.
The Speaker explained that he had changed the resolution after seeing the text that contained “corruption” word and if the discussion was allowed the members would refer to sub-judice matters.
An agitated Ravi alleged that the Speaker was trying to save the government and the chief minister.
“I feel pity for you. They (ruling party members) are trying to defame you,” Ravi said, while Bindal accused the Speaker of misleading the House.
Reacting to the Butail’s assertion that court matter wills be referred to in the discussion, Dhumal said the Speaker was giving his judgment before listening to them.
Meanwhile, the Speaker said he allowed discussion, but only on development issue.
As Ravi promptly tried to start the debate, the ruling party members stood in protest, stating that it was the Question Hour.
As a bitter verbal spat ensued between the two sides, the Opposition members moved near the chair and raised slogans that prompted the Speaker to adjourn the House sine die.