Barbs fly in HP House over suspension of 5 Cong MLAs
Himachal Pradesh assembly on Tuesday saw the members of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and opposition Congress trading barbs over the suspension of five legislators, including leader of opposition Mukesh Agnihotri.
Congress’ Nadaun MLA Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu raised a point of orders soon after the House assembled. He said if suspension is not revoked, the opposition will not allow the House to function. Sukhu said parliamentary affairs minister Suresh Bhardwaj and deputy speaker had pushed the opposition members, which led to provocation. “We are being held responsible without any fault of ours,” he said while asking to play the video clippings of the incident in Vidhan Sabha . He asked the speaker to give his ruling. Sukhu said the ruling party should have taken the opposition into confidence that the governor will cut short his address due to his poor health.
Urban development and law minister Suresh Bhardwaj said it was the discretion of the governor whether to read the full address or not. He said the entire episode of the opening day and opposition’s protest has been recorded in CCTVs. He said opposition members attacked the governor’s ADC and further stopped him from coming out of his car. Saying that suspension of MLAs wasn’t something new, Bhardwaj said, “Many things are resolved through dialogue. The Congress should not twist the facts.”
Senior Congress leader and Dalhousie MLA Asha Kumari drew the attention of the House towards how the Vidhan Sabha secretariat ‘broke the tradition’ and opposition members were not invited for tea with governor.
The Speaker allowed deputy speaker Hansraj to speak in the house as he wanted to clarify his position on the incident, however the opposition did not allow him to speak, saying that he himself was guilty of manhandling. This led to sloganeering and counter sloganeering. Congress legislator Vikramaditya Singh walked towards the well and had sharp exchanges with deputy speaker, which flared up tempers of the ruling legislators. The opposition walked out and later returned to the House.
CM Jai Ram Thakur, while rebutting the allegations of the opposition, said no one is above the law. He said the entire cabinet and the BJP MLAs had gone to Raj Bhavan to apologise to the governor.
The entire episode was utterly shameful, but the opposition is not ashamed, he added.
Calling the ‘manhandling’ unbearable and unpardonable, Jai Ram added that there could not be any other incident more embarrassing than this in the history of Himachal. He said the deputy speaker was being singled out inside and outside the House repeatedly.
“He can’t be denied to speak. If he wants to say anything, it’s his right,” the CM said, while terming the objectionable remarks made against the deputy speaker unfortunate and intolerable.
Later, amid the opposition din, Speaker Vipin Parmar announced the commencement of the question hour.
Question Hour: ‘Defaulters owe ₹434 crore to power board’
Defaulters owe a sum of ₹ 424.34 crore to the Himachal Pradesh electricity board as on January 31, 2021, said power minister Sukh Ram Chaudhary while responding to a question tabled in the House.
In a written reply to the question raised by Dalhousie MLA, Chaudhary said ₹ 365.56 crore is due from the current consumers and ₹ 58.78 crore from the permanently disconnected consumers.
Among the defaulters are 180 hoteliers, it was informed.
Jai Ram presents ₹9,125-cr supplementary demands
Jai Ram Thakur on Tuesday presented the supplementary demands for grant worth ₹9,125.12 crore in the House for the year 2020-21.
Out of the total demands, ₹8,448 crore is under non-plan schemes, ₹280.84 crore under plan schemes and ₹ 396.11 crore under the centrally sponsored schemes.
Jai Ram said under the non-plan expenditure, ₹7,999.57 crore has been provided for ways and means advance.
“Relief was provided to every section of the society and now, the state is coming out of economic recession,” he added.
He said major chunk of the grant under the plan schemes will go to health and family welfare department, World Bank-aided horticulture development project and to provide additional subsidy.
Under centrally sponsored schemes, he said, supplementary demand is proposed for funding ongoing or new schemes.
Prominent among these are Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana, smart city mission, loan to credit co-operatives, social security pension, and World Bank-assisted project for skill strengthening for industrial programme.