The bickering between the two rival parties, the Congress party and the Bharatiya Janata Party, over the recently introduced Himachal Pradesh Sports (Registration, Recognition and Regulation of Associations) Bill, 2015 has reached a new high. The BJP has now urged governor Kalyan Singh to seek legal opinion before giving his assent to the bill.
Shimla MLA Suresh Bhardwaj, who is also the chief whip of the BJP legislative party, submitted a memorandum signed by legislators including leader of the opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal to Kalyan. The memo drew the governor’s attention towards “the way it was introduced by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh” during the recently concluded budget session of the legislative assembly.
“The bill didn’t figure in the list of business on April 7h. Instead the government incorporated the bill in supplementary agenda and it was later tabled in the house. The next day the bill was proposed for discussion inside the house,” the memorandum read.
“We had opposed the way the government had tabled the bill. Copies of the bill were not even distributed to BJP legislators. The government agreed to debate on the bill on April 9 but simultaneously denied opportunity to legislators keep their viewpoint on the bill,” said Bhardwaj.
In the memorandum the BJP also complained about assembly deputy speaker Jagat Singh Negi for “making a political speech in which he accused MP Anurag Thakur of ‘gundaisim’ (which also hurt the dignity of the chair of the deputy speaker”. The BJP alleged state party chief Satpal Singh Satti and Kutlehar MLA Virender Kanwar were not allowed to participate in the discussion on the bill.
“This has further deepened the doubts about government intentions amongst the general public of the state” said Bhardwaj, who was accompanied by local BJP leaders. “This bill will come to the governor’s office for assent.”
The memorandum requested Kalyan to look into the legal aspects before giving his consent to the bill. “The bill not only contravenes the international Olympics charter but also that of the Indian Olympics Association and the basic provision of the BCCI. The bill will curb autonomy in sports associations,” Bhardwaj said.
Dhumal hits out at Virbhadra
The sports bill has escalated the war of the words between the ruling Congress party and the opposition BJP.
Former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal lashed out at the government, saying he had asked the chief minister to maintain the dignity of his office and refrain from making unwanted allegations against him. Dhumal had termed Virbhadra’s allegations against the HPCA as “concocted”.
“During the assembly’s budget session Virbhadra had maintained one should not make any references to HPCA since the matter was sub judice,” Dhumal said. He also accused Virbhadra of attempting to the take over the HPCA stadium in Dharamsala. “The government should tell the public it was illegal to take over the stadium at midnight,” he added, accusing the chief minister of “adopting double standards”.
Ministers come to CM’s defence
Coming to the defence of chief minister Virbhadra Singh, ministers Anil Sharma and Sudhir Sharma asked former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal to explain the “public interest behind behind converting HPCA to a company from a society and the need for setting up the Himalayan Players Cricket Association and registering it at Kanpur.”
“It was only the personal interest of his son that Dhumal watched and served while making land allotment to HPCA was perhaps the only cricket association in India which was running a five-star hotel. It now appears Dhumal was using the whole state BJP machinery and the HPCA to politically establish his son,” the ministers said.
“MP Anurag Thakur changed the constitution of the HPCA and added 26 life members with voting right in the association to keep absolute control over the HPCA. HPCA is being run as a captive organization by Thakur. He was given the supreme powers and all power regarding giving life time memberships and in other matters lies within his purview,” the ministers added.