In the last session of the assembly before Punjab goes to polls early next year, the Congress did the unprecedented. After a no-confidence motion that the party brought against the Akali-BJP government was defeated amid unruly scenes, Congress MLAs refused to leave the House after the day’s session was adjourned at 6pm on Monday. The House will meet on Wednesday after Tuesday’s Eid holiday.
Around thirty of the 42 Congress MLAs, including four women, were sitting on the floor of the House till filing of this report (1.30am), plunging the Punjab assembly staff into crisis. The protesting Congress MLAs are demanding a fresh debate on the no-confidence motion. Leader of opposition Charanjit Singh Channi said they would not move from the House till Wednesday, the last day of the session. “The air-conditioners and lights have been switched off. We were without food and water for hours. But we are fighting for Punjab and will not let the government browbeat us,” Channi said.
Punjab assembly secretary Shashi Mishra, who was staying put in the assembly along with the watch and ward staff, said: “There is no convention of such indefinite sit-in inside the assembly. I have requested them to leave. The staff too has not been able to go home. They shouldn’t have done this. The central air-conditioning system is controlled by the Chandigarh administration staff which had left for the day,” she said, adding they will not be evicted forcibly.
All efforts put in by the assembly staff and senior police officers on duty inside the assembly to cajole the MLAs to go home failed. “The assembly staff, on orders of the government, is trying to make us as much uncomfortable as is possible. Till we threatened them that we will break the furniture at around 10pm, we were sitting in pitch darkness,” said MLA and Indian Youth Congress president Amrinder Singh Raja Warring.
Speaker rejects demand
The speaker, in a message to MLAs through the Vidhan Sabha secretary, said their demand for a fresh debate on the no-trust motion could not be accepted as voting has already taken place.