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Opposition walkout from Assembly to protest hike in prices of subsidised ration

dehradun Updated: May 01, 2017 20:49 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand,Prakash Pant,Indira Hridayesh

Cabinet minister Satpal Maharaj arrives at the assembly in Dehradun on Monday.(Vinay Santosh Kumar/HT Photo)

DEHRADUN: Pressing on their demand that the BJP government roll back prices of subsidised ration for the 45 lakh above poverty line (APL) families, Congress legislators staged a walkout from the Uttarakhand Assembly on the first day of the two-day session on Monday.

Leader of the Opposition Indira Hridayesh moved an adjournment motion, crititcising the Trivendra Rawat government’s decision to almost double the prices of ration as ‘highly irresponsible’. “This rather unthoughtful decision has caused panic and distress among the poor who cannot afford to purchase costly ration,” Hridayesh said, demanding the BJP government immediately bring down the prices of the subsidised rice and wheat to the earlier slab.

The APL families will have to shell out Rs 8.60 and Rs 15 to buy wheat and rice per kg respectively, for which they used to pay Rs 5 and Rs 9 before the price hike. “To add to their woes the government has also banned the supply of subsidised sugar for them.”

Hridayesh claimed that the previous Congress government introduced the State Food Security Act to ensure that 45 lakh APL families could easily access subsidised ration. “The legal provision was introduced for the left-out APL families which couldn’t be covered under the National Food Security Act.”

Former minister Pritam Singh took a dig at the Rawat government, saying doubling the prices of subsidised ration for the poor was its only achievement since it formation a little over a month ago.

Parliamentary affairs minister Prakash Pant defended the government’s decision to hike prices. “The prices were hiked in view of the market situation and the paying capacity of the APL families,” he said.

Unconvinced by the reply, angry Opposition members trooped into to the well of the House while sloganeering against the ‘anti-poor’ Rawat government. In the din that followed, Speaker Prem Chandra Aggarwal rejected the opposition’s demand for a debate on the issue of price hike of the subsidised ration.

Angry opposition members staged a walkout in protest. The House witnessed uproarious scenes during zero hour as well. As soon as it began, BJP legislator Deshraj Karnawal thanked the Chair for accepting his request to put Dalit icon BR Ambedkar’s portraits on the walls of the Vidhan Sabha Bhawan.

His statement evoked a sharp reaction from the opposition members who again trooped into the well of House to protest. An irate Congress legislator GS Kunjwal drew the House’s attention to vandalisation of Ambedkar’s statues in Pithoragarh and Almora.

The former Speaker questioned Karnawal for not raising such a sensitive issue. This led to heated arguments from both sides, forcing Pant and Hridayesh to intervene. “The legacy left behind by Babasaheb belongs to all of us. So, no one should try to appropriate that legacy,” Hridayesh said.

Later, Pant tabled the Uttarakhand Cooperative Committee (Amendment) Bill, 2017 in the House, which was passed by a voice vote. He also tabled the State Goods and Services Tax Bill and the State Contingency Fund Bill. Both the bills are likely to be passed in the House on Tuesday.

First Published: May 01, 2017 20:49 IST