High drama prevailed in the Haryana assembly on Monday as the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leaders created a flutter by accusing Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda of having a second spouse.
INLD legislator Rampal Majra was the first to raise the issue in the House. Later, Ellenabad MLA Abhay Singh Chautala entered an argument with Hooda before the speaker intervened to expunge the proceedings, prompting a protest walkout by the INLD legislators.
Speaker Kuldeep Sharma also asked the press not to report the proceedings in this context. "This is a malicious campaign. I will not allow this," he said. Addressing a press conference later, INLD leader Abhay Singh Chautala on Monday alleged that Hooda had married a one-time Youth Congress leader, Shashi, in November 1992 in spite of being married already and a child was born out of their wedlock in 1994.
Demanding the sacking of the Haryana chief minister on grounds of bigamy that is prohibited under the Hindu Marriage Act, the INLD furnished copies of a petition filed by Shashi in a Dehradun court.
The petitioner had on December 17, 2013, filed a petition in the court of principal judge, family court, Dehradun, GS Dharamsaktu, for restitution of conjugal rights under the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act. Though the petition was listed for hearing on January 24, 2014, by the Dehradun family court, the petitioner withdrew it on January 1, 2014.
Cong MLAs defend their leader
Defending the CM, Congress MLAs BB Batra and Raghuvir Singh Kadian convened a press conference hurriedly in the assembly's press lounge and said the very fact that the venue of the marriage, a mandatory requirement under the Hindu Marriage Act, had not been disclosed in the petition proved that it was false and malicious.
"The allegations in the petition were flimsy and do not hold ground," they said. Terming the INLD allegations a political gimmick of the worst kind, the MLAs condemned the Opposition leaders for trying to tarnish the CM's image. They said that it was repulsive to see INLD leaders indulging in character assassination of a leader of character, stature and repute. "It is an act to weaken the fibre of democracy. INLD leaders must introspect before leveling such false allegations. The people of the state, however, know the facts about the INLD as well as the chief minister," said Batra.
The MLAs also said it was clear also from the sequence of the events that it was a false complaint, as the petition was filed on December 17, 2013, and first hearing scheduled for January 24, 2014, though the complainant had withdrawn her petition on January 1, 2014, admitting that neither her complaint was maintainable nor had she any grudge against Hooda.
The two leaders requested the media not to publish the reports based on the INLD allegations, as it was also against the Hindu Marriage Act, a section of which also ensures all proceedings to be in-camera and prohibits any reporting on them.
He kept meeting second family: Abhay
Abhay Chautala, however, said that as per the details in the petition, Hooda had tricked Shashi into believing that he would divorce his legally wedded wife to marry her. "After their son, Rajat, was born, the Congress leader (Hooda) kept on meeting Shashi and the child in Delhi at a hotel or at his residence," the INLD leader said.
He alleged that Hooda had married Shashi only after she had put pressure on him but had humiliated her. "It was unbecoming of a CM to have conducted himself in such a manner. We demand that the Congress expel him from the party and seek his resignation as CM, and a thorough inquiry be conducted into the matter," the INLD leader added.