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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

Punjab Budget session Day 2: AAP guns for Akalis, speaker Rana gives treasury benches an earful

Speaker tells parliamentary affairs minister Brahm Mohindra to ensure attendance of ministers, officers

chandigarh Updated: Feb 14, 2019 00:09 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh during the budget session in Chandigarh on Wednesday.
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh during the budget session in Chandigarh on Wednesday.(HT Photo)

A day after the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) stole a march over the ruling Congress by parading suicide-hit families near the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, the government on Wednesday had a field day in the House watching the Opposition benches exchange fire.

Starting the debate, Dakha MLA HS Phoolka, who has resigned from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), cornered the government over medical vans and action against the Badals and former DGP Sumedh Singh Saini over sacrilege and police firing incidents. “Five ministers said they should be put behind the bars. What has the government done in last six months?” he questioned.

He still remains legislator in the assembly as his resignation is not accepted by the speaker yet.

But the party’s main salvos were saved for the SAD. Party MLA Pawan Kumar Tinu tried to puncture holes in the governor’s address saying the Amarinder Singh-led government was trying to take credit for central schemes, outsourcing heath services, schools for meritorious students too were on the verge of closure and poll promise of free education to girls was not fulfilled.

Targeting minister for welfare of scheduled castes (SCs) Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, he said he has been not giving pre- and post-matric scholarships citing an ongoing audit. “Where is the audit report?” he asked the minister.

Dharamsot lost his cool while countering the allegations but found no support from the ruling benches. Leader of opposition Harpal Cheema too taunted the minister asking him to reveal the audit report.

SAD legislator Harinder Singh Chandumajra made an impressive debut saying the governor was being asked to make a speech which was a bundle of lies. “Captain (CM Amarinder Singh) made farmers sign forms promising to write off their loans after coming to power. Farmers did not pay their loans and now banks are attaching their land. You hold debt waiver functions with such song and dance. Are they marriage ceremonies? And if you are farmer-friendly, why is diesel costlier in Punjab than neighbouring Himachal or Chandigarh? The rates of sand and gravel too are four times up,” he said.

Chandumajra was interrupted by Simarjeet Bains of the Lok Insaaf Party (LIP), a former AAP ally, who told the Akalis they have no right to preach after 10 years of ruling the state. Prompted by ruling benches, Bains went on to add that earlier the Akalis rained canes on protesting teachers and now it was the Congress. AAP leader Aman Arora took on Bains on his allegation of Delhi government led by AAP banning entry of buses from Punjab. He then turned towards the Akalis. “You looted Punjab for a decade,” he said, using one epithet after another, which were expunged by the speaker who asked the staff to switch off Arora’s mike.

The SAD leaders led by Parminder Singh Dhindsa, in the absence of party president Sukhbir Badal and ex-minister Bikram Singh Majithia, put up a meek defence.

As the Congress benches relished the AAP versus SAD war, the speaker gave the ruling benches an earful. Just six ministers — Brahm Mohindra, Manpreet Badal, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Aruna Chaudhary, Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria and Sunder Sham Arora — were present when the debate started. Seeing Dharamsot missing from his seat, the speaker told parliamentary affairs minister Brahm Mohindra to ensure their attendance. “Even officers are not here,” he said looking at the six officers in the gallery, including chief secretary Karan Avtar Singh.

Mohindra said the CM had to go for a court hearing and he would ensure attendance of other ministers. Soon, some ministers and officers trooped in. Aman Arora during his speech targeted the government for its alleged failure to rein in private luxury buses, saying it is not serious about stopping the loot. From the Congress, Harpartap Ajnala and Hardayal Kamboj patted the government’s back, heaping lavish praise on the CM.

Gurnam panel report tabled in House: Speaker

On the demand for tabling the Justice Gurnam Singh (retd) report on police firing in Nakodar that killed four youths, assembly speaker Rana KP Singh said the report has been tabled in the House twice. To this, Dakha MLA HS Phoolka said the report has to be tabled along with the action taken report (ATR). Parliamentary affairs minister Brahm Mohindra said a case was registered against the accused and the commission has not found any lapses in the legal proceedings. SAD’s Nakodar MLA Gurpartap Wadala sought copies of the report which the speaker said could be obtained from the House.

First Published: Feb 14, 2019 00:09 IST