The winter session of the Himachal Pradesh legislative assembly on Friday got off to a stormy start with Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) walking out of the house, twice seeking high-level probe into illegal axing of trees in the state and removal of forest minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri.
As soon as the obituary reference ended, BJP legislator Suresh Bhardwaj pointed out to the speaker, BBL Butail, that a notice had been moved by the Opposition, under rule 67, demanding an adjournment motion on the issue of illegal felling of green trees in state capital Shimla and other parts of Himachal.
The speaker said that the matter was already listed for debate as the Opposition member Ravinder Singh Ravi had moved a resolution under rule 130 and there was no point in adjourning the House.
Even as chief minister Virbhadra Singh intervened, asserting that he had fought with the forest mafia his entire life and respected the members. He said that agreed to the concern they had raised, but everything should be done according to the rules.
Ravi, who led the charge in the absence of leader of the Opposition, Prem Kumar Dhumal, however, again stood on his seat and said that as many as 477 trees were felled in Tara Devi area of Shimla on November 12 and 13, but no action was taken for over a week. “The forest mafia has got the administrative and political shelter,” alleged Ravi, demanding high-level inquiry into the incident.
As the speaker asserted that he would allow the Opposition members to speak only when the resolution was moved, Ravi said it was bias on part of the chair to not allow the Opposition to raise the issue concerning the interest of the state and its people.
“It is not only the question of the Shimla forests, but same thing is happening in Chamba and in constituency of the forest minister. He should immediately be sacked,” demanded Ravi.
Meanwhile, the speaker said that the Opposition member wanted to disrupt the proceedings of the House, to which Suresh Bhardwaj said that they wanted the House to run smoothly, but the issue was of utmost importance. The Opposition later agreed to discuss the matter in the question hour.
Soon after the speaker announced the question hour, BJP legislator, before raising the question again,
made a reference to the same matter on which infuriated speaker asked him to sit down. This led to uproarious scenes in the House as the Opposition members stood on their seats and alleged that their voice was being throttled.
As the next question was being taken up, the Opposition members staged a walkout, raising slogans against the government and demanding resignation of the forest minister. The Opposition again staged a walkout on the same issue in the afternoon, expressing dissatisfaction on the reply of the forest minister on the same issue.