Leader of opposition Sunil Jakhar on Friday squarely blamed chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son and deputy Sukhbir Singh Badal for failing to break the deadlock in the House for the last three days, "thereby depriving the opposition of raising important public issues". He further said that the acts of the Akalis during the session "showed that CM Badal is no longer in command".
"I went to meet the chief minister along with other Congress MLAs, but the marshals banged the door on us saying that no opposition member was allowed to go to the speaker's chamber. Is this the way the ruling party behaves with the opposition? The CM may express ignorance about this incident, but I apprehend that someone from the ruling alliance wanted to scuttle the meeting," said Jakhar, addressing the media in the press gallery of the state assembly.
The Congress MLAs had refused to attend the proceedings unless revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia was ousted for having abused one the party's legislators, Rana Gurjit Singh, on Wednesday. They were angry that speaker Charanjit Atwal had expelled Rana rather than taking action against Majithia.
On Friday, as they were protesting in the lobby, the speaker reportedly called them for a meeting at the CM's behest. But the marshals allegedly did not let the opposition members enter the speaker's chamber. "I gave a written complaint to the speaker against the marshals, but nothing was done," said Jakhar.
He said he had already sent a written communiqué to Badal asking for an apology from Majithia on the floor of the House. "That would have defused the situation," he said. "Badal was also well aware of the biased role played by speaker Atwal. In fact, if the speaker wanted to be fair to the opposition, he could have acted against the marshals who misbehaved with two women legislators from the Congress."
Jakhar said the acts of the Akalis in the House during the last five days had further substantiated his charges of complete lawlessness in Punjab "and how the goons and the mafia are ruling to roost".
"The Congress holds Majithia directly responsible for the December 5 murder of an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) of police in Amritsar, and also for the deteriorating law and order. He should be dismissed immediately from the cabinet," added Jakhar.
"In fact the entire leadership of the Akali party is arrogant and power-drunk, including Sukhbir Singh Badal who thumped the bench on the floor of the House and warned that he would not let the assembly function for five years."
Jakhar said that his apprehension that Badal was not in command of his government was indeed true, as "the situation would not have gone ugly if Badal was in command". "Unfortunately, Sukhbir and Majithia have snatched away the command from Badal."
Senior Congress leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said whenever the Akalis came to power, "they invariably create jungle raj in Punjab".
"Whether it is their wing SOI (Student's Union of India) or the tradition of appointing losing halqa (constituency) in-charge, these are all part of creating extra-constitutional powers."
She said she feared that "goons let loose by the Akalis" might physically harm Congress MLAs Rana Gurjit Singh, Balbir Singh Sodhi, Tarlochan Singh and others. "If anything happens to them, both Badal and Sukhbir should be held directly responsible," she added.
'Akal Takht should summon Majithia'
Congress MLA from Kapurthala Rana Gurjit Singh, who had been expelled from the assembly on Wednesday after a tiff with revenue minister Bikram Sigh Majithia, said the Akal Takht should summon Majithia for abusing him in the House, particularly for derogatory remarks about his moustache. "The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is a Panthic (religious) party, and its own member is inflicting insult on a fellow Sikh. Majithia should be declared Tankhaiya (excommunicated from Sikhism) and summoned at the Akal Takht for an apology."