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MLAs play truant, House adjourns without any business

The MLAs of Delhi create a dubious history as most of them do not turn up at the Assembly, reports Amitabh Shukla.
Hindustan Times | By Amitabh Shukla, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 02, 2008 03:21 AM IST

The one job that the MLAs are entrusted with, when elected and sent to the Assembly, is to be the voice of the people on the floor of the House.

Interestingly, the MLAs of Delhi created a dubious history on Tuesday when most of them did not turn up at the Assembly. The House was adjourned for the day without even a single question being asked or discussed.

“This is unprecedented. I have not seen the Assembly being adjourned without conducting any business on a given day due to absence of quorum in the last 14 years,” state BJP President Harsh Vardhan told the Hindustan Times.

Chief Minister and Leader of the House Sheila Dikshit agreed. She, however, blamed the BJP for not coming to the House that led to the adjournment. Asked if it was not the responsibility of the Treasury Benches to ensure smooth conduct of business, she said the MLAs might be busy somewhere.

When the session began at 2 pm, a headcount of the MLAs showed that only 17 were present - 15 from the Congress, one from the BJP and one from the NCP. The secretary of the Assembly announced a break of 10 minutes. When the bell rang again, the BJP member walked out while a few Congress MLAs came in. The headcount showed 22 MLAs, two short of the minimum of 24 required for the quorum to start the proceedings of the House. As per the rules, the House was adjourned for the day.

“I called the chief whip of the BJP and the Congress seeking their cooperation to start the proceedings. They could not rope in their MLAs. This is unfortunate,” said Speaker Chaudhary Prem Singh.

Leader of Opposition Jagdish Mukhi said the BJP did not attend the House “deliberately”. “Our members were expelled for three days and were supposed to attend today. We wanted to expose the Congress and prove that they do not take the Assembly seriously,” he said.

Congress MLAs blamed the entire floor management strategy of the party for the fiasco and loss of face. “Even as the crucial Budget session was to be held, there was no meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) to decide on floor strategy,” said a three-time Congress MLA. Another MLA said the chief whip of their party had prepared a “roster” wherein some of the MLAs were to attend the session from 2 pm to 4 pm while some were supposed to attend the session after 4 pm.

“This is ridiculous. How can a roster be prepared for a day's session which does not last even four hours on any given day,” said another Congress MLA.

Several Congress MLAs went to a huddle soon after the adjournment so that the unfortunate incident is not repeated for the next three days of the Budget session of the Assembly.

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