The Congress managed to put its house in order on Monday — a day before the assembly budget session concludes — after Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh batted for leader of opposition Charanjit Channi at the Congress Legislature party (CLP) meeting held an hour before the session resumed on Monday.
The internal dissent on Channi’s style of functioning notwithstanding, Congress MLAs put up a united show in the House during the zero hour and discussion on bills.
Speaking to the media after the CLP meet, Amarinder accused Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal, revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia and other Akali leaders of “bullying” Channi, saying they showed scant regard for legislative and parliamentary dignity and decorum.
“They pounced on Channi like a pack of wolves. Channi has taken over only recently as CLP leader and he needs time. Instead of behaving like street bullies, Sukhbir and his party should have allowed Channi to speak and make his point. In Parliament, whenever a new member makes his maiden speech everyone claps to encourage him. By trying to shout him down, they have further exposed themselves before the public,” he said.
Asked about absence of most MLAs during Channi’s speech on motion of thanks on governor’s address and budget debate, Amarinder said, “ Congress MLAs should have been there. Channi should not have been left to fight the ruling benches alone,” he added.
On Congress strategy for the last day, Amarinder said the party should bring an adjournment or no-confidence motion over the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal issue against the government.
“Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal is trying to create a constitutional crisis on the issue to emerge a hero. Badal deliberately delayed sending the SYL bill to the governor for his assent giving too much time to Haryana and the central government to act against Punjab. The Congress should bring an adjournment of no-confidence motion against Badal for betrayal on SYL on Tuesday,” he said. Channi said they have yet to take a final decision on bringing the motion.
However, some MLAs present at the CLP meeting were not in favour of raking up the SYL issue again, saying the matter is in the Supreme Court now and the party should corner thestate government on other issues.
To counter Sukhbir, who had asked CLP leader Channi about achievements of his (Capt’s) government, Amarinder handed over copies of 60-page booklet — ‘manifesto and performance of Congress government (2002-07)’ — to Congress MLAs asking them to keep them on these on desks of the ruling benches.