Congress and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators came to blows after a heated exchange in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly on Friday, forcing speaker Brij Bihari Lal Butail to adjourn the House.
Trouble started soon after the question hour when BJP legislator Govind Thakur raised the issue of the recent violence at Government Degree College in Sanjauli. Butail paid no heed to Thakur’s raising the issue and continued with the proceedings, prompting the BJP MLAs to raise slogans.
They alleged that chief minister Virbhadra Singh was shielding the college principal, involved in the violence that took place on the college campus on August 21. The BJP members continued raising slogans, following which the ruling Congress MLAs also got up and began raising counter-slogans.
The situation worsened when the CM made a reference to the derogatory remarks against chief parliamentary secretary Neeraj Bharti by the opposition leaders. This led to a heated exchange between Bharti and state BJP president Satpal Singh Satti, with both hurling abuses at each other.
Amid the pandemonium, Naduan MLA Vijay Agnihotri headed for the well of the House, challenging Bharti. Leader of the Opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal and other senior party leaders also joined the protesting BJP MLAs.
However, Bharti continued using unparliamentary language against Satti and even threw down a gauntlet at former health minister Rajiv Bindal which infuriated the BJP MLAs. Raising slogans against the government, the BJP members gathered near the seat of the CM.
Satti, who had the printed copies of derogatory comments posted by Bharti against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders on a social networking site, wanted to show it to the CM. When Satti placed the copies before Virbhadra, the CM threw them back at Satti.
Congress members, including ministers, gathered around Virbhadra and were seen arguing with the BJP legislators. Soon the argument turned violent and the two sides exchanged blows. Bharti and state BJP general secretary and Naina Devi MLA Randhir Sharma exchanged blows when the former again abused the BJP MLAs.
Transport minister GS Bali, parliamentary affairs minister Mukesh Agnihotri and former education minister Asha Kumari tried to pacify the BJP members, who later sat in the well of the House. The speaker adjourned the House for 15 minutes. Chaos continued even after the House resumed as the BJP legislators again started raising slogans.
Condemning the incident, the speaker termed it an unfortunate day in the history of the Vidhan Sabha. The speaker directed that unparliamentary remarks by both the ruling and Opposition members be expunged. He also asked the media not to publish any photo of the violence in the House. The business listed for the day was later suspended and the House was adjourned for the day.
Violence in college
On August 21, students owing allegiance to the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) allegedly assaulted principal of the Government Degree College, Sanjauli, Joginder Singh Negi outside the college gate. The students, who were raising slogans against fee hike, allegedly gheraoed the principal’s car, dragged him out of it and started beating him up.