Two independent legislators from Ludhiana Simarjeet Singh Bains and Balwinder Singh Bains stole the show from right under the nose of a tepid opposition on the second day of the Punjab assembly session.
The Bains brothers, both leading members of the fourth front announced by Navjot Singh Sidhu on Thursday, were physically removed from the Punjab assembly hall for defying the orders of speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal.
This is the first time in over four-and-a-half years of the present term of the Akali-BJP government that such a sight has been witnessed in the House in which two MLAs were physically lifted by the watch and ward staff and left outside the hall.
The opposition Congress, however, had something to pat itself for. The speaker a dmitted their plea for bringing in a no-confidence motion against the government. Atwal said he would allow discussion on the motion during the session. In preparation, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) issued a whip to its MLAs later in the evening to ensure their presence on the remaining two days of the session: September 12 and 14. In the motion, the opposition has raised ten issues, including desecration of Guru Granth Sahib and the deteriorating law and order situation in Punjab.
Simarjeet Bains sought to bring in a private member’s resolution to raise a demand to Rajasthan to pay `16 lakh-crore for using Punjab’s river waters since 1965. The resolution was rejected by the speaker. Simarjeet was asked to sit down by the speaker, but he continued to shout standing on his seat. After issuing him a warning, which Simarjeet ignored, Atwal ‘named him’ (asking an MLA to leave the House).
When Simarjeet defied that order too, the speaker ordered his removal from the House. Balwinder Bains too was removed as he stood up to protest. The brothers continued to raise slogans outside the assembly.
“I have accessed documents of 1955 from the Government of India that show that Punjab is well within its rights to demand compensation for giving 11.3 million acre-foot (MAF) water to Rajasthan. According to the power and water commission rates, Rajasthan owes Punjab Rs 16 lakh-crore. Why cannot the state government demand it?” they brothers said during a press conference later.
After the conference, they again tried to enter the assembly, but only Balwinder was allowed. Simarjeet sat on a dharna outside the hall for the rest of the session.
Cong’s own goal, Jakhar’s comeback
Cong’s own goal
While the ruling combine wants the last session of its current tenure to pass off peacefully, the opposition failed to put up an impressive show, allowing the treasury benches to score easy brownie points.
During the zero hour, Congress MLA Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi sought the CM’s comments suggesting installation of statues of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Udham Singh and BR Ambedkar in the Vidhan Sabha campus. While promising to fulfil Sodhi’s demand, Badal lashed out at the Congress for having done “nothing all these years” in the memory of martyrs. He fully used the opportunity to take credit for the memorials his government was building. “You will not go to see these memorials. But do go, while hiding from the public,” he suggested to the Opposition MLAs.
Although the Opposition asked the CM not to waste time elaborating on the issue, some Congress legislators, requesting anonymity, said Sodhi played right into the hands of Badal by asking such a question.
Also, the Opposition’s attempt to pin deputy CM down failed when the speaker rejected a breach of privilege motion moved by former Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar. Jakhar claimed that Sukhbir had failed to fulfil a promise he made on the floor of the house in March of providing basic amenities to all households in 100 towns of the state. As the motion was rejected, all MLAs of the Opposition reached the well, raising slogans against the government. They jostled with the watch and ward staff trying to reach the speaker’s chair.
As if the day-long pandemonium was not enough, Vidhan Sabha authorities were in for a major embarrassment when the microphones developed a snag as soon as the leader of the House, chief minister (CM) Parkash Singh Badal, stood up to speak. It forced the speaker to adjourn the House for over a hour and a half.
Jibe of the day
Congress MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu told finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa that, as the government claims its coffers are full of money, the FM should have no problem in telling how much dearness allowance it paid to the pensioners.
Comeback of the day
After CM Parkash Singh Badal listed achievements of his government in setting up memorials and also spoke of Congress “failing to do anything”, Congress MLA Sunil Jakhar stood up and told the CM to beware and save the youth, “lest the entire Punjab becomes a memorial”. The CM, though, accepted a Congress MLA’s demand to set up more memorials.
Pat of the day
As independent MLAs, brothers Balwinder Singh Bains and Simerjeet Singh Bains were talking to journalists in a corridor of the Vidhan Sabha during an adjournment, they were patted by MLAs cutting across party lines. “Wah- wah, shabash (kudos),” were the words of MLAs of Congress, Akali Dal and even BJP MLAs. “Our courage is being recognised,” said Simerjeet, referring to their forming a ‘forum’ with Navjot Singh Sidhu and Pargat Singh.
Family moment of the day
Objecting to finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa’s wife distributing cheques in her constituency Lehragaga, Congress MLA Rajinder Kaur Bhattal referred to her as her daughter. Revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia latched on to that word and asked Bhattal that if she was her daughter she should sort out the matter within the family. “Why are you bringing it here?” he asked.
Request of the day
When chief minister Parkash Singh Badal was constantly being interrupted from speaking by the Congress, he said, “This is the last session of this government. Let us make its memories beautiful, not bitter.”