Newly elected MLAs take oath in Punjab assembly
Inderbir Singh Nijjar, the protem speaker, administered the oath to the legislators, most of who are first-time AAP members
The sounds of ‘Inquilab Zindabad’, ‘Jo Bole So Nihal’ and ‘Jai Bhim’ reverberated in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on Thursday as the newly elected state legislators were administered the oath of office and secrecy. A number of MLAs, particularly of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), concluded their oaths raising such slogans.
The ceremony marked the opening of the 16th Punjab assembly. Protem speaker Inderbir Singh Nijjar termed the day “as a historic event” that marked a “new beginning for Punjab”. He administered the oath to members, starting with chief minister Bhagwant Mann, who ended his with the slogan of ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ (Long live the revolution). Mann was followed by the women MLAs, and then came the turn of rest of them. In all, 112 MLAs took oath in the 117-member House.
The AAP had won the state polls with a thumping majority, sending 92 members to the House. The Congress has 18 MLAs, followed by three of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), two of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), one of the SAD’s ally Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) besides an Independent.
Euphoria among AAP legislators
Members of the ruling party started reaching the House 15 minutes ahead of the scheduled time of 11 am. Mann also reached the Vidhan Sabha early, but left immediately after taking the oath to attend to official work.
The euphoria among the AAP MLAs was palpable, being the majority party that formed government in the state for the first time, as they were seen hugging and congratulating each other. A number of AAP MLAs reached the House with their supporters, which led to chaos at the entry point as they were stopped.
AAP MLAs Aman Arora, Harjot Singh Bains and Kulwant Singh Sidhu bowed at the entrance of the Vidhan Sabha before the start of the oath ceremony. Kultar Singh Sandhwan, also of the AAP, bowed before climbing the stairs to reach the dais for oath. The MLAs also flocked the new CM and some even bowed in front of him as a mark of respect.
Some Congress MLAs also met Mann, though the senior lot — Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa and Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, who were ministers in the previous government — stayed away and greeted the CM from a distance with folded hands. Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira, who besides Partap Singh Bajwa arrived late, greeted the MLAs of both his party and those on the treasury benches.
5 MLAs skip maiden proceedings
Two MLAs of the SAD — Manpreet Singh Ayali and Dr Sukhwinder Sukhi — took oath, but Ganieve Majithia stayed away from the maiden proceedings of the House. Congress’ Rana Gurjit Singh and his son Rana Partap Inder Singh, who got elected as an Independent candidate, were also not present.
The BJP’s Ashwini Sharma and Jangi Lal Mahajan also stayed away from the first day’s proceedings. Meanwhile, all AAP MLAs were present in the oath ceremony.
The House will resume on Monday at 11 am for election of the speaker, followed by the governor’s address.
AAP legislator Gurdev Singh Dev Mann cycled to the Vidhan Sabha from his constituency Nabha. He remained the star attraction for the media. To strengthen his claims, the new MLA shared his pictures and videos at different points on the highway leading to Chandigarh
Malerkotla MLA Mujib-ur-Rehman of the AAP took oath in Urdu while Congress’ Sandeep Jakhar, who has been elected from Abohar, read out his oath in Hindi. Rest all members took oath in Punjabi
SAD’s Manpreet Singh Ayali, who reached the Vidhan Sabha with his wife, was stopped by the news channels for a quick briefing. Speaking to them, Ayali said that Akali candidates who have forfeited their deposits should resign from the party. He said he was able to stage a victory despite the AAP wave because of welfare work done in his Dakha constituency
Patiala MLA Ajit Pal Kohli, who defeated former CM Capt Amarinder Singh, reached the assembly with his wife and son. For this third-generation Akali who switched to the AAP ahead of the elections, it was a “dream come true” to be in the Vidhan Sabha
The excitement among both MLAs and media could be judged from a scene on the road leading to the Vidhan Sabha from the high court chowk, as vehicles in which the newly elected legislators travelled were lined up while the MLAs were giving interviews to news channels