Former chief minister Virbhadra Singh joins protesting legislators outside the Vidhan Sabha in Shimla on Thursday. (Deepak Sansta/HT)
Former chief minister Virbhadra Singh joins protesting legislators outside the Vidhan Sabha in Shimla on Thursday. (Deepak Sansta/HT)

Virbhadra asks HP CM to show magnanimity, Jai Ram insists on apology

Virbhadra Singh joins Congress MLAs protesting their suspension outside Himachal assembly, urges govt to soften stand on matter
By Gaurav Bisht, Shimla
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 05:09 PM IST

The deadlock between the ruling BJP and the Opposition over the suspension of five Congress legislators for the duration of the budget session for allegedly manhandling the governor continued for the fifth day on Thursday as both sides refused to relent.

The Opposition abstained from participating in the proceedings of the House. The legislators, party workers and leaders, including the Congress’ state chief Kuldeep Singh Rathore, covered their faces with black ribbons and staged a sit-in protest outside the Vidhan Sabha. Veteran Congress leader and former chief minister Virbhadra Singh also joined the protesting legislators and requested the chief minister to ‘show magnanimity and soften his stance’.

Virbhadra Singh described the registration of cases against the Congress legislators unfortunate. “Had I been present in the Assembly, I would have resolved the matter within hours. It is the duty of the Opposition to raise issues. In a democracy , it is the right of the Opposition to protest. The governor was not insulted. It was their right to protest, and they protested, “ he said

“Where is the need for tendering an apology as the Opposition did not mishandle him. The Government should not adopt tough posturing,” the veteran leader said.

Chief minister Jai Ram Thakur, who is leader of the House, however, refused to the budge and parceled the blame squarely on the Opposition’s soldier.

After the Assembly was adjourned for the day, Thakur said, “The fault does not lie with the government. The Opposition has committed a grave mistake and should tender an unconditional apology to the governor. Had the Opposition targeted me, the matter could have been overlooked, but they misbehaved with the governor.”

On Virbhadra Singh’s request, the CM said, “I hold him in high regard. However, we also remember the time when we were bundled in buses and thrown in the forest for walking into the well of the House.”

‘Footage of episode should be shown in House’

Thakur said, “The leader of Opposition jumped to conclusions before the governor could finish his address and termed it a bundle of lies. If there is a provision, the footage of the entire episode should be played in the House so the truth can be differentiated from lies.”

On the Opposition refusing to attend the proceedings, the CM said, “Had they been in the House it would have been good . Barring those who had been suspended, others could have attended the House, but the Congress violates the rules time-and-time again.”

Five legislators - leader of opposition Mukesh Agnihotri, Harshwardhan Chauhan, Vinay Kumar, Satpal Singh Raizada and Sunder Thakur - were suspended for unruly behaviour and obstructing governor Bandaru Dattatreya on the opening day of the budget session on February 26. The suspension has led to a stalemate in the budget session with Opposition members asking the Speaker to revoke his decision. On a complaint from the marshal, the police had registered FIRs against the legislators.

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