Punjab assembly: Akalis create din over debt, ‘abuse’; speaker adjourns the House twice
In the absence of Akalis’ top triumvirate of former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, Sukhbir Badal and Bikram Majithia, former finance minister Parminder Dhindsa led the party legislators.punjab Updated: Jun 15, 2017 20:42 IST
Pandemonium reigned on Day Two of the budget session of the Punjab assembly as the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sought to corner the Congress government over farmers’ debt and allegations use of “foul language” by a minister.
The slogan-shouting legislators of the two opposition parties jumped into the well of the House – some of them even squatted on the floor for a few minutes — prompting speaker Rana KP Singh to adjourn the House twice for 30 minutes each in a span of two hours to restore order. In the absence of Akalis’ top triumvirate of former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, Sukhbir Badal and Bikram Majithia, former finance minister Parminder Dhindsa led the party legislators.
SAD, BJP DEMAND IMMEDIATE DEBT WAIVER
The House proceedings had a stormy start as SAD MLA Ajit Singh Kohar got up to raise the farm debt waiver issue just minutes after the members assembled for the question hour. As other party legislators also started speaking up for immediate debt write-off, the speaker said they were wasting time of members who had submitted questions related to problems of their areas.
The Akali MLAs did not pay heed, rushing to the well of the House shouting slogans and demanding that their adjournment motion on farm debt waiver be allowed. Leader of Opposition HS Phoolka, who belongs to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), also asked for a debate on debt waiver. However, the speaker expressed regret, saying that the notice for adjournment motion was not received on time.
He asked them to discuss the issue during a resolution on farmers, but the slogan-shouting carried on, prompting local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu to hit back at the Akali-BJP rule of 10 years. “Baba Badal teh 40....., na khedunga na khedne dounga, loot ke kha gaye....,” he hollered. The speaker expunged some of his words from the proceedings. The Congress members also started raising slogans, provoking the protesting Akalis further. And the speaker adjourned the House.
AKALI, CONGRESS MEMBERS SPAR OVER ‘FOUL LANGUAGE’
When the members reassembled, parliamentary affairs minister Brahm Mohindra advised them against wasting time during the question hour. “There is sanctity of question hour. The members raise people’s voice. It is undemocratic to disrupt the question hour,” he said.
Phoolka said the members have a right to raise issues pertaining to their areas. “No party can snatch their right,” he said to thumping of desks by members of the ruling Congress. The speaker asked the members to go ahead with their questions, telling the Akalis to take it up during zero hour. But the protesting members were not satisfied and again rushed to the well of the House, raising slogans, before staging a “symbolic” walkout to register their protest.
After question hour got over, SAD member Ajit Singh Kohar demanded an apology from Sidhu for abusing them and rushed to the well of the House along with his colleagues. As they raised slogans, an unruffled Sidhu kept repeating his stinging one-liners. The speaker continued with the proceedings. “When you have nothing to say, just say I have been abused. They just want to create rumpus,” said technical education minister Charanjit Singh Channi, backing his cabinet colleague.
Amidst the din, Phoolka also urged the speaker to have the Akalis’ abuse charge cross-checked from the proceedings. Sidhu said he was educated and would never use foul language. Both sides continued to raise slogans. The speaker asked the leader of Opposition to go ahead with his calling attention motion on inconvenience caused to the people due to overloading of trucks, tippers and trolleys carrying sand. When Phoolka urged him to restore order, the speaker adjourned the House.