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Graft audio row: Haryana speaker evicts ‘unruly’ oppn MLAs from House  

Suspended for a day: Eviction announced after assembly adjourned twice; Haryana CM assures probe.

india Updated: Mar 13, 2018 13:32 IST
Pawan Sharma
Pawan Sharma
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Graft audio row,Haryana speaker,Haryana Vidhan Sabha
Congress legislators raising slogans outside the Haryana Vidhan Sabha in Chandigarh on Monday. (HT photo)

Haryana Vidhan Sabha speaker Kanwar Pal on Monday evicted Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and Congress legislators from the House after the opposition leaders disrupted the assembly proceedings over claims of bribe for the post of a municipal committee chairperson.

The speaker ‘named’ the MLAs before evicting them, as a result they stood suspended from the House for the remainder of the day.

At the centre of the INLD-spearheaded attack on the government was a secretly recorded audio allegedly involving two middle-rung state BJP leaders talking about how Rs 75 lakh was allegedly paid to become MC chairperson last year. The two-part audio is doing rounds on social media.

When the speaker evicted the opposition MLAs, 17 of a total of 19 INLD and 13 of a total of 17 Congress legislators were present in the House. The speaker took this step after adjourning the House twice for 20 and 30 minutes.

The trouble began after the Question Hour when the opposition raised the issue of money changing hands for selection of an MC chairperson. In a bid to defuse the deadlock, chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar said: “I have listened to carefully to the both the audio conversations being circulated. We will hold an independent inquiry to ascertain the truth. We will punish the guilty.” However, the leader of opposition Abhay Chautala refused to budge on this and demanded to know the nature of the inquiry the CM was promising. The Congress also joined the chorus and din prevailed in the House.

The CM again told the slogan-shouting opposition members that it will be “an independent inquiry” and that the maximum punishment will be awarded to the culprits.

Refusing to accept Khattar’s assurance, Chautala demanded that those whose names figured in this audio should resign. Referring to the mud-slinging through social media, the CM said a dirty trend was growing to tarnish the image of political adversaries. “In the second part of the audio, the so-called complainant is saying that he was drunk while levelling the allegation of having paid money,” he said.

“We will expose this conspiracy,” Khattar told the House amid noisy protests by the opposition.

At 4.45pm, the speaker named all the INLD MLAs present in the House. Congress MLAs Raghuvir Singh Kadian and Kuldip Sharma then urged Khattar to order registration of an FIR.

As the INLD kept asking Khattar to inform which agency will hold inquiry, the speaker adjourned the House for 20 minutes at 3.23pm. When the House reassembled, deputy speaker Santosh Yadav walked in and announced to adjourn the House for 30 minutes again.

A pandemonium continued when the House reassembled at 4.15pm. Chautala said they were merely demanding an assurance from the CM that an FIR will be lodged against the persons who figured in the audio tape.

“CM merely saying that an inquiry will be conducted is not sufficient. All the three persons figuring in the audio clip are BJP members,” Chautala said.

CM Khattar said as two contradictory audio clips were doing the rounds, there was a case for only an inquiry. “We will get the matter enquired by a top state agency and the guilty will be brought to the book,” Khattar said.

INLD members kept raising their voice with INLD MLA from Pehowa, Jaswinder Singh Sandhu, demanding registration of an FIR. An irritated Khattar told the INLD benches: “House chalaana hai to challain, warna nahi to mat chalain.”

On this, the speaker told the opposition MLAs that he was going to name them. The watch-and-ward staff approached the opposition benches. But Chautala continued to argue with the speaker telling him that this was unfair. “Our MLAs are only raising an issue of public interest,” he said.

At 4.45pm, the speaker named all the INLD MLAs present in the House. Congress MLAs Raghuvir Singh Kadian and Kuldip Sharma then urged Khattar to order registration of an FIR.

“You are a good person and have no personal stakes in this. Why are you getting into all this? Order an FIR and let the House run. Remember, this issue has a potential to even scar you,” Kadian said.

Later, the Congress MLAs were also named and evicted from the House.

First Published: Mar 13, 2018 13:31 IST