The agreement between the Khattar government and yoga guru Ramdev’s Patanjali Yogpeeth for development of a herbal forest at Morni rocked the Haryana assembly on Thursday.
The Congress accused the state government of favouring Ramdev by handing over thousands of acres of land in Panchkula. The government has given the land without following due procedure, said Congress MLA Karan Singh Dalal. Several ministers and members of the BJP refuted the charge, saying that the memorandum of understanding (MoU) is for development of the world’s largest herbal park and no land is being given.
A heated verbal duel ensued during which a minister’s remark, which was later expunged by the speaker, saw the Congress members rushing to the well of the House to demand an apology from him.
Trouble began during the Question Hour when tourism minister Ram Bilas Sharma made a mention of the MoU signed by the state government with Ramdev’s trust while replying to BJP legislator Latika Sharma’s question regarding development of Morni area of her Kalka assembly constituency as a tourist spot.
When health minister Anil Vij was giving additional information on the herbal forest plan, Dalal said that the state government is trying to promote Ramdev. “Under which law land has been given to Ramdev? Did you invite global tenders before signing the agreement?” he asked, calling it a dubious decision.
Vij said the mega herbal forest project to be set up over 17,000 acres of land will have herbal plants of 25,000 different varieties. “No land has been given. Why are they so scared?” he said.
Dissatisfied with the minister’s reply, Dalal said they are not badshahs (emperors) to give the state’s land in this manner. The Congress members decided to stage a walkout. As they were leaving, cooperation minister Manish Grover passed a comment. His aside, similar to the remark made by Congress MLA Kuldip Sharma that he had to withdraw later, irked the opposition party’s legislators. They rushed to the well of the House, seeking an apology.
Congress legislator Randeep Singh Surjewala, making his first appearance in the House during the ongoing budget session, led the Congress charge. While he claimed the minister’s remark was aimed at two Dalit women legislators of the party, several BJP ministers and members vehemently denied this.
The ruling party members accused Surjewala of “lying and misleading” the House. Both sides continued to hurl allegations at each other. However, much of it could not be heard in the din.
Speaker Kanwar Pal told the members not to use “unparliamentary” language in the House.
Ram Bilas Sharma, who is also the parliamentary affairs minister, tried to pacify the Congress members that no remark was made against any woman member. “If anyone has uttered something inadvertently or by mistake, it should be ignored,” he said.
While the Congress members were not satisfied, INLD leader Abhay Chautala got up to speak, training his guns on Surjewala over the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal issue. “When the Congress released its manifesto for the Punjab elections, Surjewala was present,” he said even as the BJP members thumped their desks. Before he could finish, the Congress leader quickly got up and objected.
The INLD members responded by raising slogans of ‘SYL virodhi Congressi murdabad’ and Haryana virodhi murdabad’. While Chautala demanded that Surjewala be sent out, the latter said that the INLD MLAs should be made to sit on treasury benches. The speaker adjourned the House twice to calm down things.