One-day monsoon session of Punjab assembly adjourned sine die; SAD MLAs stay away, AAP legislators attend in PPE gear

Chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh moved a resolution against the Centre’s farm ordinances, which was backed by all members barring the BJP and the Akalis, who skipped the session citing the Speaker’s Covid protocol; AAP MLAs attended session in personal protective equipment (PPE) gear
Chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh and finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal while the obituary references were being made in the Punjab assembly on Friday. Social distancing was maintained as the members met amid the Covid-19 pandemic.(Ravi Kumar/HT Photo)
Chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh and finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal while the obituary references were being made in the Punjab assembly on Friday. Social distancing was maintained as the members met amid the Covid-19 pandemic.(Ravi Kumar/HT Photo)
Updated on Aug 28, 2020 03:40 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | ByHT Correspondent

Chandigarh: Fifty-two members of the Punjab assembly attended the day-long monsoon session amid the Covid-19 pandemic on Friday that saw chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh moving a resolution against the Centre’s farm ordinances in the absence of BJP ally Shiromani Akali Dal.

The truncated session began with obituary references at 11am and was adjourned for an hour after paying tributes to 28 personalities, including the Galwan bravehearts and former member of Parliament Gurdas Singh Badal.

The assembly was convened amid the pandemic to fulfil the constitutional obligation of meeting within six months of the last session. SAD members skipped the meet due to the Covid-19 protocol after 30 state MLAs tested positive. Aam Aadmi Party legislators, however, chose to attend the session in personal protective equipment (PPE) gear.

While 42 Congress legislators attended the session, six AAP MLAs, and two each from the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Lok Insaf Party were present in the House. Three AAP legislators, including leader of opposition Harpal Singh Cheema, were not allowed in the House despite showing their Covid negative reports.

The House was adjourned sine die at 2.10pm.

AKALIS MISSED SESSION DELIBERATELY: CM

Moving the resolution against the Centres’s farm ordinances, the chief minister said that the SAD should have attended the session. “They deliberately missed it as they knew this resolution will be passed in the assembly,” he said.

Barring the BJP members, all MLAs unanimously supported the resolution.

“Murder of democracy by Cong govt. Now police force posted outside SAD MLAs’ houses to prevent them from attending 1 hr assembly session. Such kind of oppression seen for first even though SAD announced it will act responsibly. We appeal to Governor, Pb to intervene & restore order,” Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia said in a tweet.

CLINICAL ESTABLISHMENT BILL PASSED

The Punjab Clinical Establishment Bill, the Guru Teg Bahadur Bill and the Punjab Good Conduct Prisoners (Temporary Release) Amendment Bill were passed

The AAP raised the issue of the post-matric scholarship scam with Master Baldev Singh asking Speaker Rana KP Singh to suspend cabinet minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot. Lok Insaf Party member Simarjeet Singh Bains also raised the issue and praised additional chief secretary Kirpa Shankar Saroj for submitting a report against the minister.

Aam Aadmi Party leaders Harpal Singh Cheema, Sarabjit Kaur Manuke and Meet Hayer showing their Covid negative test reports outside the assembly on Friday. (Ravi Kumar/HT Photo)
Aam Aadmi Party leaders Harpal Singh Cheema, Sarabjit Kaur Manuke and Meet Hayer showing their Covid negative test reports outside the assembly on Friday. (Ravi Kumar/HT Photo)

COVID PROTOCOL AND ADVICE

Earlier, AAP MLAs, including leader of opposition Harpal Singh Cheema, Aman Arora, Meet Hayer and Sarabjit Kaur Manuke, reached the assembly wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) kits. Cheema, Hayer, Manuke and Baldev Singh held a protest outside the assembly, alleging that despite their negative coronavirus test reports, they were not being allowed to attend the session.

On Thursday, the chief minister and Speaker had appealed to all legislators, who had come in contact with COVID-positive MLAs, to avoid attending the day-long assembly session.

Of the 30 MLAs who have tested positive so far, 20 are from the Congress, six from SAD and four from AAP, including a party rebel. Of them, seven have recovered.

However, the AAP legislators, whose three colleagues tested positive this week, decided to attend the session, ignoring their advice. “Barring those who have tested positive, the other nine party MLAs will attend the session. Besides coronavirus, there are other issues such as Scheduled Caste (SC) scholarships, illicit liquor, the Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal and sand mafia that need to be raised. We took the decision at a virtual meeting,” Cheema said.

Budhram and Manjit Singh Bilaspur, who have tested positive, had attended the AAP legislature party meeting three days ago in which seven other members were present.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) legislature group, on the other hand, decided not to attend the session as its MLAs had come in contact with their colleague Gurpartap Singh Wadala, who later tested positive. SAD legislature party leader Sharanjit Singh Dhillon said the party was following Vidhan Sabha rules and Covid-19 guidelines. The decision was taken at a meeting of the legislature party on Friday morning.

The Speaker had given the advice after a group of AAP MLAs met him and the SAD legislature party leader wrote to him. According to the Covid-19 protocol, all contacts of positive persons have to quarantine themselves for 14 days.

PROTESTS OUTSIDE THE HOUSE

Lok Insaaf Party members Simarjeet Singh Bains and Balwinder Singh Bains protested against the Scheduled Caste scholarship scam outside Punjab Bhawan. Both demanded the dismissal of social welfare minister Dharamsot.

Though the SAD MLAs stayed away, youth Akali activists, led by state chief Parambans Banti Romana, were detained by Chandigarh Police for protesting outside the Vidhan Sabha.

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