On the third day of the Punjab assembly budget session on Thursday, speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal suspended all Congress MLAs for a day for disrupting the proceedings of the House amid pandemonium over a resolution moved by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal against sharing of river waters.
The Congress members were demanding amendments in the resolution on SYL (Sutlej-Yamuna link) canal issue. The Opposition wanted the SAD-BJP government to condemn the Centre for filing an affidavit in the Supreme Court recently, favouring early completion of the SYL canal to give more water to Haryana. The Congress also sought direction to the government to de-notify the land acquired for the SYL canal and return it to farmers.
The Opposition also insisted on initiating the discussion on the resolution instead of the CM and didn’t allow him to speak. The charged Congress members ignored repeated pleas by the speaker of not creating ruckus in the House.
Ruckus in House
After four adjournments, BJP MLA Madan Mohan Mittal moved a proposal before the speaker for suspending the Opposition MLAs. Leader of opposition in the House Charanjit Singh Channi said 26 Congress MLAs were present in the House when the speaker ordered their suspension. “The resolution of the ruling alliance has no meaning. It’s like delivering a lecture and has nothing concrete,” said Channi, adding that the amendments suggested by the Congress were action-driven. “The government could have easily closed the mater for always by de-notifying the land on which the SYL was built,” said Channi.
However, the amendments in the resolution proposed by Channi were rejected by the speaker on technical grounds, saying the proposal was not given in the prescribed format and it had to be submitted two days in advance.
Later, reacting to the rejection, Channi said proposing the amendments two days in advance was not possible as he came to know about the resolution yesterday (Wednesday).
On being asked that it was state Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh who welcomed former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi during the foundation-laying ceremony of the SYL canal in 1982, Channi said: “Amarinder stood for the rights of state and brought in the Termination of Water Agreements Act, 2005. To this, the treasury benches flashed a copy of an advertisement with photograph of then PM Indira Gandhi and Amarinder in an English daily in 1982 showing the latter welcoming the then PM.
Supporting Channi, Congress MLA Balbir Singh Sidhu said in the Rajiv-Longowal Accord, the Akalis accepted to construct the SYL canal and the then Badal government got `2 crore in the 1980s to conduct a survey.
Break ties with BJP, CONG to SAD
Channi told the media that in such a crisis situation, the SAD should snap ties with the BJP in Punjab and also pull out of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre. “The Akalis should also step down and seek fresh elections in the state,” he suggested.
Former Congress Legislature Party leader (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar, who is MLA from the Abohar constituency, said the Congress should have participated in the debate. “I am not against my party’s collective decision, but we would have cornered the ruling alliance with fact and figures by participating in the debate,” Jakhar told HT.
He added that any amount of water going into SYL would affect the Abohar area – the kinnow belt of the state which is entirely fed on the canal water. “Every drop of water being diverted to the SYL canal would affect our area and will turn it into a desert,” he told HT.
Plead of day
CLP leader Charanjit Singh Channi stood up with folded hands and offered to touch the feet of BJP minister Madan Mohan Mittal when the former interrupted him. “I will touch your feet, but please let me speak,” said Channi, and everyone in the House burst into laughter.
Advice of day
As the CLP leader repeatedly insisted on allowing him to speak on the resolution on the SYL canal, deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal stood up and said the newly-nominated CLP leader may not know the procedure of the Vidhan Sabha and suggested him to take advice from his predecessor, Sunil Jakhar.
Barb of day
As health minister Surjit Kumar Jyani was unable to pronounce the word ‘psychiatry’, Congress MLA Sunil Jakhar told the House to use simpler words so the ministers who can’t speak English can make their point. “Officials use difficult words on notes prepared for ministers. Please in future, use ‘manovigyan’ in place of psychiatry,” suggested Jakhar.